Reggae school for Bedford, England
Jamaica has been touted as the originator for reggae, but if all goes well, a school dedicated to reggae music will be opened in 2016 in the town of Bedford, England.
Debbie Forbes, who also resides in Bedford, is now pursuing her dreams of opening the school in that town.
In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Forbes said her passion for reggae started as a child as her father, Kenneth Lloyd, who hails from Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, came over from Jamaica aboard the SS Cuba in 1944 seeking a better life for himself. He was among those who joined the Royal Air Force, and while some returned to Jamaica, Lloyd chose to stay.
In talking about her father's love of music, Forbes said, "He used to play the drums, and as a child, he took me to some of the places he played in London, and I was so proud as he sounded amazing."
So powerful was the influence that she said it touched her heart and soul as a child, and to top it off, she had piano lessons "with the real reggae feel from her father".
It was a dream come true for her as a teenager when she visited the country of her father's birth and had the "Reggae Sunsplash experience".
"I was lucky to witness Sunsplash, and seeing Third World play was even more of an eye opener.."
The driving force behind her pushing for a reggae school is that she sees the need to keep reggae alive and well in the young people of today as she feels they should not miss out on the opportunity to learn how to play the music.
"The many masters of reggae, like Bob Marley, for instance, I am sure would want that to be the case," she said.
Having now taken a break from her job as a marketing person, she is putting all her energy into making the school a reality. However, right now, she says it's the early stages of the project as she is currently seeking to get the right people on board to have things up and running by the end of next year.
"I am speaking to the local council to involve the schools and to get funding as I would like to have a five-room premises with two private teaching rooms, a band rehearsal room, and a recording studio. We would also need a variety of instruments to teach the pupils on."
Her efforts were highlighted in the local media in Bedford, and since then, she has been receiving "loads of responses", which she could only describe as being wonderful.
Looking ahead, Forbes said she would like some original Jamaican musicians on board to help with the teaching side of things.
"Later, when we are up and running, we will need some famous reggae icons to visit the school with tips to pass on, which would be amazing."
Forbes, herself, is no novice to the reggae beat as she has played in bands and on keyboards, among other gigs.
Growing up in Brixton in the heart of the 70s, she was surrounded by Jamaican music. Now she is seeking to preserve that love and culture through the school.