Jamaica honours reggae with grand festival to mark 50 years of the genre

January 23, 2019 at 10:05 am | Culture

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson | Staff Writer

January 23, 2019 at 10:05 am | Culture

Photo via @bobmarley on Instagram

With so much focus on culture, history and preservation of originality, February 2019 has been declared Golden Reggae month in Jamaica.

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, the celebration was declared and launched by the country’s minister of culture, gender, youth and sports, Olivia Grange, on Sunday, January 20.


Minister of culture, gender, youth and sports Olivia  Grange

“It was a major step for us and our music which is our heartbeat and our lifestyle,” Grange  said. “It is an achievement for reggae music to be formally recognised and for that it is my pleasure to participate and share in the launch of Reggae Month this year.”

Since 2008, as part of its determination to preserve culture and history, Jamaica has set aside February as reggae month to celebrate the impact that the homegrown music genre has had on the world.

The decision was announced by then Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, on January 8, 2008, at Jamaica House. Grange, at the time, stated that the main aim of reggae month was to sharpen the focus and draw the attention of the world to the powerful asset that is wholly Jamaican.

This year’s reggae month celebration will mark 12 years since the month-long festivity was started in Jamaica. Most importantly, it marks 50 years since the genre came into existence with the release of Do the Reggay by Toots and the Maytals in 1968.

In addition to that, the month of February was selected as the best month for the celebration as it is the birth month of the music genres biggest icons Bob Marley and Dennis Brown.

Dennis Brown

With the launch of the Golden Reggae Month this February, 2019’s celebration promises to be bigger, interactive, historical and memorable for the people of Jamaica and the world.

Activities for the celebration include Children of the Icons and Emerging Artistes Road Show; Reggae on the Waterfront; Amateur Night on the Mound (Victoria Pier) for four consecutive Tuesdays; and Reggae Films in the Park that will feature movie productions that highlight reggae music.

Bob Marley

In addition, there will be a variety of symposiums, panel discussions on reggae, the JARIA Honour Awards to honour Bob Marley and photo exhibitions. On February 24, a Dennis Brown Tribute Concert will be held, followed by the Reggae Gold Reception and Awards Ceremony on February 27 to honour 50 icons – groups and individuals­­­ – who have contributed to the development of the genre.

The launch of the Golden Reggae Month officially opens Jamaica’s doors to tourists and music lovers all over the world to come to have a feel of the genre in its original form from its home and celebrate 50 years of its existence. This year’s celebration also marks the recent inscription of the Reggae Music of Jamaica to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of intangible treasures for the whole of humanity.

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