Amitabh Sharma, Contributor
With beats emanating from every corner of the island, music is as much a part of the character of Jamaica as the pristine beaches, the vast expanse of the turquoise seas and the delectable food.
Among the strolling, suitcase-lugging transit passengers, varied hues and aroma of the Duty Free shops and the usual hustle and bustle at the departure lounge of Kingston's Norman Manley International Airport (NMIA) is a serene space that speaks volumes of Jamaican music.
Visualising 50 Years of Jamaican Popular Music, showcases the diversity of Jamaica's musical genre dating back to the 19th century from the emergence of Mento to the 20th century sounds of Nyabinghi drums.
The space at the lounge, transformed into a Jamaican musical time capsule, also captures other popular Jamaican music to include ska, rock steady, dub, reggae and dancehall.
The space, according to the Institute of Jamaica, which is one of the partners of this exhibition, aims to engage the memories of those who were around during the early years.
The musicians who were there as
the music was in its formative stage and had the attention of all who cared to experience sounds and images from the past to the present.
"The sub-themes presented in the exhibition include the internationalisation of the music, celebrating the pioneers of the music; exploring the attendant appeal of the music in relation to dance, fashion and film," said Janice Lindsay, director Centre for the Arts at University of Technology (UTech).
The exhibition, a collaboration between the Jamaica Music Museum, the Institute of Jamaica and UTech, chronicles the development of Jamaican music over the past 50 years.
"We have used musical artefacts such as vinyl records, turn tables, album covers, posters, news-clippings and photos of artists who have contributed to the development of the Jamaican music industry," Lindsay added.
The genesis of this exhibition goes back to the Chancellor's Medal Awards held in December 2012, informed Lindsay. But there were deliberations about showcasing the exhibition beyond the awards.
"After much discussion, Herbie Miller, curator of the Jamaica Music Museum and a member of the exhibition committee, recommended that the work be displayed at the Norman Manley International Airport," she informed.
A space that small might not fully capture the vastness and the richness of Jamaican music, but it gives a holistic overview of the evolution of the rhythm, the beats and the lyrics on this island.
The exhibits are from both on and behind the scenes - the nyabinghi drum, the turntable with vinyl, a two track reel-to-reel tape recorder, the drum machine, a saxophone perched on a pedestal - the synergy is in seamless variation.
Photographs on the wall capture the moments frozen in time, of the artistes and their music.
Those scenes vary from the privacy of recording studios to the machinery of the pressing plant, the rehearsal space with its perceived uncertainties to the business offices of record label executives. Indeed, most have never actually seen the diverse world of those in the music industry.
Also showcased are costumes, awards and accolades that stamp the presence of Jamaica in the world.
"The popularity of Jamaican music is not limited to the aural experience alone," Lindsay said.
For the globe-trotting passenger, this serene spot offers one more fond memory to take back, and also a reason to come back to Jamaica to savour it to the max.