February is Reggae Month
01/28/2014 by Steve James
February was officially proclaimed Reggae Month in 2008 by the then Ministry of Culture. Shortly before Reggae Month in 2009, then Minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange gave the Jamaica Recording Industry Association (JaRIA) the mandate to take on the role as the lead organizing entity of Reggae Month, as a way of fostering and having a unified approach to the management of the Reggae Industry.
► VIEW THE PHOTO GALLERY HERE
The current chairman of JaRIA is former member of legendary band Third World, Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper; who is also the head of the music department of The Edna Manley School of Arts. Past president of JaRIA, Freddie McGregor, stated at a recent press conference that our local music industry has always needed an organization like this to bring focus and direction to the industry that is reggae music.
The organizations has long term plans and envision that over the 2014-2024 period, the plan includes presenting the world's largest reggae oriented trade show and exposition in Jamaica and developing an internationally recognized schedule of activities that will make Jamaica the Reggae Mecca of the world each February.
The significance and suitability of February being Reggae month is reinforced by the act that during this month, the birthday of the most internationally recognized artist from Jamaica, Bob Marley and that of the Crown Prince of Reggae, Dennis Brown are celebrated. Additionally, it is also Black History month. Over the past few years of the celebration of reggae month by JaRIA, it has unearthed new talent, exposing many at its shows during Reggae Month. Some of these artistes are Chronixx, Jah9, Kabaka Pyramid and Pentateuch who are now easily recognized and sought after acts.
From its humble beginnings at the Edna Manley School of Arts, the celebration of Reggae Month has grown, and has been staged at Emancipation Park for the past few years. Due to the continued growth, this year’s Reggae Month will see most of its events being staged at Ranny Williams Entertainment Complex, however all but one of the ‘Reggae Wednesdays’ activities will be held at the Emancipation Park. The event has grown significantly from a series of concerts to an Open University series, symposiums and trade fairs. The Dennis Brown concert and the Trench Town International Night concert are also major events for the calendar.
In addition to hosting its own events JaRIA has endorsed and partnered with several other events to be held during the month. Among those are live performances such as ‘Essence Live’ held every Tuesday night,’ Grounation’ series, at the Institute of Jamaica, and Uptown Mondays to name a few.
With the partnership of the Jamaica Hotel & Tourist Association (JHTA) and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB), the organization has raised local and international awareness of Reggae Month. Visitors not only flock the island for the Reggae Month celebrations, but reggae acts from overseas visit to do recordings. At this time as well international promoters also visit the island to scout out new talent. All of which increases the occupancy levels of hotels, hostels and the accommodation sector and also provided well needed foreign exchange to the island.
In the years leading up to the inaugural staging of Reggae Month the reggae music industry was being affected by several negative aspects in the business. JaRIA has remained committed to turning this around by portraying and highlighting the positive aspects in the music. It is with that in mind that Reggae Month 2014 will not only feature concerts but will focus on edutainment to educate the public as they enjoy the performances and activities available. The Open University feature will have several panel discussions looking at different aspects of the business such as ‘The influence of Rastafari on the Rise of Reggae Music’, ‘Pioneering Women in the Business’, and ‘The Contribution of the Sound System to the Jamaican Music Industry’. Several documentaries will be shown during the Open University series such as Stepping Razor, Red X, The Story of Lovers Rock, Legends of Ska and a documentary on Gregory Isaacs.
During the trade fair persons will be able to conduct business with various partners in the industry and purchase various arts and crafts available. In keeping with its mandate to honour the pioneers of our music, the JaRIA Honor Awards will be held at the Courtleigh Auditorium on February 15th. The red carpet event will recognize some of the pioneers in the industry. Among some of those who are scheduled to receive an award are Hedley Jones pioneer builder of the first sound system, Mervyn Williams engineer, the late Don Drummond of The Skatalites and rhythm duo Sly & Robbie among others . For more information check the website at JARIAJAMAICA.com
BELOW YOU FIND THE FULL CALENDAR OF EVENTS: