Conscious Reggae Party goes to school
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Tour spans from basic to tertiary levels
Three years ago when the free Conscious Reggae Party series began, there was a stated commitment to take the combination of live performance, recorded music and a featured speaker into the Jamaican classroom. Starting yesterday and continuing for the next two weeks, that phase of the series will be entered into through what Denise 'Isis' Miller describes as a compact version of the Conscious Reggae Party.
Miller said that there are those who question what takes place on many a school tour, but those doubts do not arise with the Conscious Reggae Party series. "What is unique is that we are doing all ages, from the basic to the tertiary," Miller said.
So yesterday's start to the series was at the basic level, at the Little Angels Learning Centre at Mustard Seed Communities, 1 Mahoe Drive, St Andrew. The slated speaker, dubbed a 'reggaelutionary' (as are all the speakers in the Conscious Reggae Party series), was Amina Blackwood-Meeks. Miller said that the children planned to sing 'Happy Birthday' for her.
The performers were also on the youthful side, among them eight-year-old singer Xylophone who is from the community; 18-year-old Johanna McPherson (who recently earned seven CSEC subjects) and her 17-year-old brother, who got eight who will both do poetry; teenage reggae gospel artiste Dean Coore and Damali Adele Ife.
In addition, representatives of Artistes For Change will also bring the anti-littering campaign to Little Angels.
Next Thursday's stop is at Haile Selassie High School, with Keteis Oyude as the speaker, Exile Di Drave, Jah Bouks and Maveck the performers. Miller said Rastafari TV will also be launched and there will be a presentation of the school's motto in Amharic.
The final school stop for the Conscious Reggae Party this time around is at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech), on Thursday, September 18. Being done in collaboration with the African Cultural Renaissance Movement, the performers there include Wayne J, Wildlife, Ishabel, Jah Bouks and the Jembe Group.
Miller pointed out that these school stops are abbreviated versions of the Conscious Reggae Party. So the Little Angels visit was slated for about an hour and at Haile Selassie it will be done in club time. "We are going in with a message. It is not a full show as such," Miller said.
The intention is to repeat the cycle of basic school through to the college level at the start of each term.
One Friday, September 19, the Conscious Reggae Party goes past its school hours with a full staging at the One Love Café, Bob Marley Museum, 56 Hope Road, St Andrew. Among the performers will be I-Wayne, Jah Bouks, the Jah Over Evil family and Wayne J, with Iset Sankofa and Rasserella supplying recorded music.
The Soul Instruments group will do an acoustic set at what is designated as a launch event for the series.
Another kind of tour has been proposed from time to time, Miller said, that would se the Conscious Reggae Party heading out of Kingston. "People in the rural areas are saying we should get out there, but that requires sponsorship," Miller said.
So far support for the party series comes from Roots FM, the Bob Marley Museum, Tuff Gong, I Nation Books and Fareye Films. Support from the public for is also welcome.
Miller reiterates that the event is free. "The Conscious Reggae Party will never change from that. If you want to make a donation you do so, but we will never charge for it," Miller said.