Organisers look back at Reggae Month 2010
Krista Henry and Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writers
Reggae Month 2010 ends today, with more than 30 events having been scheduled for February. The series of activities spanned the island with a mix of live concerts, symposia, films, parties, workshops, exhibitions, school tours and trade fairs. There was also the International Reggae Conference, which ran from February 17 to 20 at the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies.
Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Olivia 'Babsy' Grange told
The Sunday Gleaner
that the Jamaica Recording Industry Association (JARIA) was established in 2008 to lead the charge of the music industry. So while the ministry played an active role in previous Reggae Month planning, JARIA was allowed full autonomy this year.
Grange said, "Reggae Month 2010 focused on the 'roots' of the music as evidenced by the JARIA-developed byline 'To The Root.' The month continued the model established in 2009 by incorporating established events into the Reggae Month activities. There were, therefore, few new events in 2010 but the addition of the weekly concerts at Edna Manley, focusing on the different genres within reggae, got good industry support. The visit to Alpha Boys Home was also an interesting event".
Grange said the purpose of Reggae Month is for all Jamaicans to celebrate the achievements of Jamaican music, document its growth, critically analyse the music genre and plan for reggae's continuing and expanded contribution to the country's social and economic development. For the future, Grange hopes that a roster of attractive major events is developed which will entice increased local support and large numbers of overseas visitors, thus boosting the economy.
JARIA head Charles Campbell chalks up Reggae Month 2010 as a success, saying there has been "overwhelming support from the Jamaican music industry - artistes, musicians, suppliers of equipment and services, producers, booking agents, managers. From the Dennis Brown tribute (on Orange Street, Kingston) to the concerts at Edna Manley (held every Wednesday) they have gone off well. The public has really benefited, as they have been free."
He said while the Wednesday night concerts attracted 600 to 700 people consistently, the closing dancehall/alternative night pulled in a much larger crowd. He also noted that events such as Jamnesia and the Poetry Society of Jamaica's February fellowship also went well. There were also the weekly events such as Passa Passa and Weddy Weddy, "all part of the package that makes Brand Jamaica so attractive".
Campbell also pointed out that the scope of Reggae Month has been broadened to incorporate many foundation artistes and musicians, as well as producers, sound system operators and engineers "in an effort to put the thing in its proper context, in terms of the contribution that has been made".
There is another expansion as well, Campbell pointing out that "we have defined the genres successfully - mento, ska, rocksteady, dub, reggae and dancehall. We have made the point that our music industry is much deeper than reggae". He pointed out that there was a gospel performer in the alternative section of the final Wednesday night concert, and hip-hop also had a presence. "Our music industry is much deeper than perceived by foreigners," he said.