A Waterfront Salute To Kingston’s Musical Creativity
A number of Jamaica's talented musicians, from the trailblazers to the contemporaries, recently came together for a show that not only celebrated the first anniversary of Kingston being designated by UNESCO as a Creative City of Music, but to reawaken the six genres. And so the programme, boasting a collage of music and dance (to a lesser extent) in mento, ska, rocksteady, dub, reggae and dancehall gave the crowd much to sing and dance about.
Anna Strachan's singing of the National Anthem signalled the official start. This heralded in a combined group of dancers traversing the journey of Jamaica's music through dance and costumes. And as the evening shadows crept over the Kingston Harbour, one of Jamaica's reggae artistes and trailblazers, Ken Boothe, made his way to the stage. He was immediately followed by another Jamaican act, Ding Dong, for the dancehall treat.
Boothe, along with his contemporaries Toots Hibbert, King Sound, and Freddie McGregor, who preceded him, stirred feelings of individuality, generated a sense of reflection, intimacy and accountability, while experiencing full enjoyment in a shared public setting. These were achieved through telling their real and concocted experiences in catchy lyrics and controlled movements.
McGregor, during his set, performed favourites like Push Come to Shove and Loving Pauper, while King Sound drew attention to the Book of Rules and I Shall Sing. Toots thrilled with Pressure Drop and Bam, Bam, while Boothe hailed the Puppet on a String and warned that the Train Is Coming. And the audience responded accordingly as they were content with singing along and rocking to the beat in their respective spaces.
Ding Dong later entered the stage like a raging bull and instructed and demonstrated, alongside his Ravers Clavers crew, how to Sivva and Skip to My Lou, among others. As if that was not enough, he jumped into the audience from the high stage for a closer interaction with fans. And the audience, mainly the younger generation, moved with each instruction.
They also remained steadfast for the optics of another dancehall act, Sizzla, who closed the celebratory concert.
The concert was held at the iconic Kingston Waterfront, downtown, and formed the closing segment of a day full of activities organised by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). It was also one of the featured events of the RJR Group of Companies Live Music Week.
In addition to the engaging performances from No-Maddz and uplifting ones from gospel artistes such as Lubert Levy, Rondle Positive, emcees Dahlia Harris and Ibo Cooper, who provided historical information, there were also remarks from the relevant stakeholders.
Deputy general manger of the Urban Development Commission (UDC) Robert Stevens, said they were proud to celebrate the first anniversary before plugging some details for the upcoming annual New Year's eve fireworks. The town clerk of Kingston and St Andrew Corporation (KSAC), Robert Hill brought greetings, and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Alison McLean, read Minister Olivia Grange's address.
"Tonight we not only celebrate the designation of being the only City of Music in the Caribbean, but also being one of only 19 music cities in the world and part of a network of 115 cities globally that are designated creative in their focus." She continued, "This designation means we have a lot to do." And as such, her ministry has partnered with the KSAC, the UDC, the Jamaica Cultural the Development Commission (JCDC), the JBDC, the Tourism Enhancement Fund, the private sector and community groups to ensure the building of creative clusters to enhance areas that are music centres.
She appealed the preservation of music spaces as "it is only through preservation that our children will be able to remember and celebrate the achievements of our great musicians".
In speaking with The Gleaner, Minister Grange, who arrived at the concert later, said the celebration would be a one-off event and noted that the second anniversary falls within the year that Jamaica celebrates its 55th anniversary of Independence.
"It will be a year-long celebration, and so when we celebrate the second anniversary of this designation of Kingston as the Creative City of Music, it will be a major event."