James Cannings, international Guyanese musician, dead at 65

9/26/2013, 2:47 p.m.
Musician James Cannings

James Cannings, international Guyanese musician, dead at 65

James Cannings, a longtime resident of Manhattan, died on Thursday, Sept. 5 surrounded by his loving family. Cannings founded JGC Entertainment Co. and JC Records and was an international recording musician, businessman, accomplished guitarist, keyboardist, composer, arranger, songwriter, producer, TV host and studio engineer.

Cannings was born in Guyana and was the bandleader of J.C. Intruders. Cannings had been releasing records since 1975. He was a virtual one-man band and, as such, created a niche for himself traveling and performing at hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, hospices, schools, colleges, libraries, universities and international festivals to share his reggae/world beat renditions. He played reggae, ska, highlife, jazz, calypso, Latin, funk, blues, R&B, pop and much more.


James Cannings at the Women's Guild in 2012.

Cannings said he was “a student of the universe whose mission is to aid in the spiritual elevation of mankind through positive, thought-provoking lyrics.” In 1979, Cannings was a guest at the White House at the invitation of President Jimmy Carter.

Cannings founded a performing rights organization, Our Own Performance Society, to lobby on behalf of songwriters and music publishers. Cannings was a tireless proponent of the United National Resolution A/RES/55/282 in 2001, which designated Sept. 21 as the International Day of Peace. He performed at the Central Park Bandshell every year since the day’s inception.

Cannings’ easy acumen with all music forms and his unique costuming made him a popular entertainment choice for women, children and elderly audiences all over New York. His hit single “Don’t Drink and Drive” is a staple in New York. If you listen closely, you will hear children chanting the lyrics.

To learn more about Cannings’ musical body of work, which spanned almost 40 years, visit www.jamescannings.com and www.internationalguyanesemusicianjamescannings.com.

A memorial service for James Cannings was held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 12 at the United Nations Chapel, 777 United Nations Plaza.