Published:Thursday June 21, 2018; 12:00 AM | Mel Cooke/Gleaner Writer
On July 1, International Reggae Day (IRD) will be observed globally, this time around being the special half-century celebration of reggae as a genre of Jamaican popular music. Tracing the movement from rocksteady to reggae, Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings, which puts on IRD, told The Gleaner that with recordings such as Toots and the Maytals' Do the Reggay and Larry Marshall's Nanny Goat, "It (1968) is generally regarded as that transition point from rocksteady to reggae. Many historians have already agreed that is the turning point".
As it is a global celebration, Davis points out another music movement that IRD 2018 will honour, this one more on the physical plane - although it was by ship that what became known as the Windrush generation of Caribbean migrants, including Jamaicans, went in droves to post-World War II Britain. "You can't leave out the Jamaica-UK chapter, about migration - the Windrush generation and the catalyst of transplanting the culture from Jamaica, planting the seed that has blossomed to what we see today. Those early travellers, those pioneers who left Jamaica took a piece of Jamaica with them in their suitcases," she said.
Cradle Of J'can Music
So events will be in Brent, a borough of London that Davis calls the cradle of Jamaican music in England. A tree will be planted in Harlesden - one of a number of celebratory trees to be planted during the global celebration - and there will be "a day's conference of talks, films, music and awards covering reggae history, copyright, highlighting reggae - sector issues and some of the veterans in front and behind the microphone".
There are a number of other IRD 2018 events worldwide, including a yacht party from Kaohsiung City in Taiwan, a live performance, an event in Grenoble, France, a Rasta craft market and Caribbean and ital food experience in Singapore at the Canvas Club, and a song release in Belize. However, there will be no live performance-type festival in Jamaica as has been done in previous years. Davis puts this down to lack of sponsorship support, saying that despite her sending out proposals from 2017, there has been no backing.
Still, she said, on July 1, the Boardwalk in Hellshire, Portmore, "will be hosting a beach party from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m." In addition, there will be special IRD discounts at various locations, including Bridgette's Sandals in Kingston, and the media festival has a presence in Jamaica as it does overseas. The publication of a magazine on the IRD website adds to the media output, Davis noting that in addition to articles from "top writers", there will be work by the late Michael 'Freestylee' Thompson.