The Jamaican music industry, and by extension the wider Jamaican society, have been moving in a direction to destroy themselves, as evidenced by the increased lack of respect, love and harmony being displayed between our brothers and sisters. We should all hang our heads in shame when we consider that Jamaica has created so much poverty and hate among its people despite being a country and people blessed with an abundance of human and natural gifts.
It is indeed amazing that despite the worldwide demand for the talents of our musicians, sportsmen and sportswomen, the attraction of our beautiful island, our wonderful food and trend-setting fashion, we still remain a poor and under-developed country. Maybe if we were to stop fighting each other and against each other we would be much better off as a nation and together reap the benefits of our very valuable natural and human resources.
The tendency of some of our artists and music producers to revel in tribalism, war and disrespect of each other, combined with the promotion of disunity, does not help our situation at all. It is full time for us to take a stand against music and musicians who constantly promote disrespect, violence and tribalism among our people. It is also time for persons involved in the music industry to do their part in building a better Jamaica by working closer together rather than against each other. We should not continue to be the silent majority while our people suffer and our beautiful country is washed down the drain.
Reggae music has helped to liberate and build confidence in millions of people around the globe, yet at home some now try to use it to do the opposite to our own people. Music supporters, as well as the makers and performers of music, all have a role to play in reversing this very negative trend. I am not for a moment trying to give the impression that only the music makers and their fans have to make a contribution to rebuilding and reclaiming Jamaica. I am however urging those of us in the music industry to do our part. Music is the food of life.
“Look at me, I ain’t your enemy
We walk on common ground
Don’t try to fight your brother
What we need – SOLIDARITY”
These are words from “Solidarity,” a song from Anthem, the first GRAMMY-winning Reggae album by Black Uhuru in 1985.
Reggae’s First Showband Was Ahead of Its Time
by M. Peggy Quattro
September 2007 – It’s about time! Zap Pow always struck me as the most progressive, talented band I’ve ever heard come out of Jamaica. Listen to their music and you’ll understand what I mean. Thirty years after the band sadly broke up, Prime Minister Simpson honored the members August 6, 2007, at her Independence Day Gala in Kingston. Then Zap Pow and friends honored Jamaica with their performance.
The Jamaica Gleaner featured an article on August 30, 2007, where the surprised co-founder, lead guitarist, vocalist, and writer, Dwight Pinkney, expressed that “it’s better late than never.” Pinkney acknowledged the absence of co-founder Michael Williams, aka Reving Mikey Zappow, who passed away a couple years ago. Mikey named the group ZAP POW in 1969. He lived for the music, for the band, and for the recognition of the quality music they produced and performed. Continue reading →
February Officially Proclaimed REGGAE MONTH in Jamaica
Prime Minister Bruce Golding announced recently, during a press briefing at Office of the Prime Minister, that February will officially be Reggae Month in the country of Jamaica. Furthermore, he instructed Governor-General Professor Kenneth Hall to issue the proclamation declaring the long-awaited honor.
In an article in the Jamaica Gleaner, the prime minister is quoted saying that he lauded the briefing as one of the most pleasant tasks he has had to perform since taking office. He says Reggae has been a medium of economic advancement and Reggae Month can be used to draw world attention to our music. Golding added that Jamaica Trade and Invest will be promoting Brand Jamaica, and that Reggae music is central to this campaign.
The Gleaner article went on to quote Prime Minister Golding as saying “Reggae is so powerful; people across the world embrace it. It is the medium we have used to declare our position against oppression and suffering. It is a consistent declaration of love,” he continued to the delight of industry players in attendance, including Rita Marley, Dean Fraser, Lloyd Stanbury, Isaiah Laing, Clifton Dillon and Barbara Blake-Hanna. Continue reading →
January 7, 2008 – Kingston, Jamaica – In the early days of Jamaican popular music, our female singers and songwriters played a major role in propelling our music onto the world stage. In fact, the first major international Jamaican hit recording was by one of Jamaica’s female pioneers, Millie Small, with her 1964 million-selling single “My Boy Lollipop.” Its success opened the doors for such artists as Phyllis Dillon, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Hortense Ellis, Pam Hall, Rita Marley, Carlene Davis, J.C. Lodge, Cynthia Schloss, Lorna Bennett, Dawn Penn, Sheila Hylton, and Nadine Sutherland, all of whom established themselves as mainstream recording and performing artists.
For some strange reason, however, the early achievements of our female artists did not result in the kind of follow-through seen by their male counterparts. For many years, we have failed to produce top-class female Reggae recording artists and performers. With the exception of the local and international successes of Diana King, Patra, Sasha, Foxy Brown, and Lady Saw, female Reggae and Dancehall artists have become a very scarce commodity over the last 25 years.
A number of different reasons have been presented for what many view as a problem in the development of our music. Sexual harassment by music producers and the rough, tough and aggressive face of male-dominated Dancehall music are two such explanations. The tendency of many young Jamaican female artists to idolize and follow popular foreign Pop and R&B female stars is another argument given for the seeming disappearance of the Jamaican female Reggae performer. Continue reading →
Stephen “The Genius” McGregor
Teen-age Son of Reggae Pioneer Freddie McGregor Hailed as The Riddim Prince!
by M. Peggy Quattro
January 7, 2008 – Los Angeles, CA – The latest in a series of McGregor-produced creations to have artists lining up is McGregor’s hot new Bee Hive rhythm. Already adding their voices to his latest production are Busy Signal, his brother Chino McGregor, Elephant Man, Anthony B, Beenie Man, Singing Sweet, and Lady Saw.
At 18 years old, Stephen McGregor has taken a firm grip on handling the state of Reggae today. From the age of five, when he released his first song, the self-penned “School Done Rule,” which stressed the importance of staying in school, the young McGregor was on his way to stardom. By age 10, he was playing guitar, bass, piano, drums, and violin. At age 12, he moved from in front of the mic to behind the board, and began churning out rhythms (aka riddims) professionally. Continue reading →