Mel Cooke, Freelance Writer
Brodber and Cooper
When Erna Brodber discusses 'Reggae as Black Space', the distinctive burru drumming and voices of the University Singers fill the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona campus, tomorrow evening, it will mark the beginning of an extensive blend of artistic endeavour and academia.
The opening ceremony of the 'Global Reggae Conference 2008', which will explore 'Global Reggae: Jamaican Popular Music a Yard and Abroad', officially starts a week which dovetails with the inaugural Reggae Academy Awards on Sunday, February 24.
Conference chair, Professor Carolyn Cooper of the Institute of Caribbean Studies, noted that "For at least five years now, as co-ordinator of the Reggae Studies Unit, I thought it was important to hold a major conference focusing on the global impact of reggae."
Cooper said that for Bob Marley's 50th birthday, the Reggae Studies Unit and the Bob Marley Foundation had combined to look extensively at the work of Marley. The book Bob Marley: The Man and His Music came out of that conference.
The Bob Marley Foundation is also involved in staging the Global Reggae Conference 2008, along with the Recording Industry Association of Jamaica, the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission and the Jamaica Tourist Board.
The conference comes at an opportune time, as the 15th anniversary of the Reggae Studies Unit approaches. It was founded in 1994. Cooper said she thought it appropriate to put on a major conference, as "there is so much work on reggae being done".
More immediate is the declaration of February as 'Reggae Month' by Governor General Sir Kenneth Hall, as well as the inagural Reggae Academy Awards, to be held at the National Indoor Sports Centre next week Sunday.
Cooper said that about 100 papers will be presented at the Global Reggae Conference, with about 70 per cent of them being academic. And the global nature is underscored with speakers from Australia, Africa, North America, Latin America, Europe, Japan, the Pacific and the United Kingdom.
For those who wish to attend, entry to the panel discussions is free. However, Jamaicans wishing to receive conference packages will pay $2,500, this reduced to $1,000 for students.