UPDATED: Rebel Salute to continue for another 25 years - Adam Stewart pledges to get festival more sponsorship
In 2018, Rebel Salute will celebrate 25 years of building and unifying the reggae community. Members of the government, local industry players, and members of private sector gathered at the Montego Bay Suite at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel for the show's launch on Monday night. The event's tagline is The Preservation of Reggae and The People's Show.
Rebel Salute 2018 will be held at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, St Ann, on January 12 and 13.
The Honourable Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, focused on the business potential of Rebel Salute. "The festival has had a direct spend of $348 million in the local economy. Over the same period, Rebel Salute has employed 20,000 people, so for 2018 I anticipate that the ticket sales alone will generate over $400 million once it gets the same level of support," Grange said.
Those figures exclude the indirect and induced benefits to individual salesmen or craftsmen. Rebel Salute has also secured a patron population of over 38 per cent tourists (the largest for any festival in Jamaica), and the remaining 62 per cent being locals.
Grange said, "there are tremendous economic opportunities to be had from the entertainment industry, and it is time Jamaicans take on a serious approach to the business of music, no matter the genre."
According to Adam Stewart, deputy chairman at Sandals Resorts International and the ATL Group, "for 25 years, Tony Rebel has been promoting the pureness and authenticity of reggae music which was God-given to our country."
The young CEO encouraged the private sector and members of the entertainment industry to partner with the Rebel Salute team and, by way of endorsements, promote tourism. He also promised to harvest sponsorships from three additional local businesses for the upcoming festival.
That commitment to Rebel Salute is given in recognition that "when we promote tourism, the largest earner of foreign exchange, it competes with every industry and in every country in the world, but nobody can test the culture heritage and music of Jamaica," Stewart explained.
The festival plans to continue presenting its patrons with a feast of food, clean, wholesome music, and fashion, while highlighting the creative and commercial talents of Jamaicans. Tony Rebel announced the names of the performers covering ska, rocksteady, rhythm and blues, reggae, and gospel music.
In the beginning
"At the beginning, January 14, 1994, it was only a commemoration of my earthday. I was not thinking to be on stage 25 years talking to you," Tony Rebel said to the guests at the launch.
Rebel knew he wanted to do something called 'salute', an event where there were no alcoholic beverages, no meat with the exception of fish, and artistes performing on stage.
"We have brought artistes that you don't know, but whose music you are familiar with. We bring them to you, and in turn you learn about them. That is what Rebel Salute does; over the 25 years we have been entertaining and educating," Tony Rebel said. "A lot of youths hear songs that they love so much but never seen the artiste before".
The entertainer and promoter shared a few memories from the past with guests at the launch. Among these was the 2004 Rebel Salute where Junior Byles stood on stage for over 5 minutes while the crowd sang Beat Down Babylon before he performed it. At the time it, was rumoured that Junior Byles was mentally impaired, so Tony Rebel and his team took him to the doctor and trained him all over again musically in preparation for the stage.
"It is something we have done over and over again with different artistes," he said, noting at the same time many who have performed at Rebel Salute but have since passed on, such as Garnett Silk, Alton Ellis, and Tyrone Taylor. Michael Prophet was expected to perform at Rebel Salute 2018, but died on the weekend.
"We always use the youth who are just coming up, set the platform that you can see them, and bring forward the older people who you may hear their music and don't know they are still around. Then you can put a face to the music and tell their story not just locally, but internationally," Rebel said.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article incorrectly suggested that Minister Marion Hall, Agent Sasco, Queen Ifrica, Tarrus Riley, Third World, Ras Moses, and Sanchez, are scheduled to perform. These artistes were in the lineup last January.)