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JBC music library to come on stream

Published:Thursday | March 11, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Two years after it was discovered that the music archive at the defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) had been plundered by thieves, a new music library is being assembled.

The facility will ultimately be available for Internet use, Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports Olivia Grange told The Gleaner last Saturday.

"We are going to put in a more secure location and have it fully catalogued and digitised," Grange said.

Grange did not disclose the new-look archive's location, but said it will be overseen by the culture ministry, National Library and Jamaica Archives. Its content is built mainly around the personal collection of contributors like the Barnes brothers (Jeff, Winston and Ed) who worked at the JBC during the 1970s and 1980s.

The siblings, who now live in the United States, donated more than 3,000 vinyl records covering the ska, rocksteady and reggae genres to the government last year.

Funding for a comprehensive database to identify Internet use of the archive comes from the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports and Education organisation which provides money for various projects.

Grange said the archives are part of a government effort to protect intellectual property in Jamaica and preserve the country's cultural heritage. The proposed Jamaica Music Museum, which is expected to be launched in downtown Kingston, is also part of that thrust.

In January 2008, the police confirmed that thousands of vinyl records and compact discs were removed from the former JBC compound at North Odeon Avenue in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew. At the time, they said it appeared that the robberies took place from 2004-2007 when the location was under the control of Besix, a Belgian construction firm that was building the nearby transport centre.

The JBC was a hotbed of political activity throughout the 1960s and 1970s when firebrands such as John Maxwell, Brian Meeks and Michael 'Mikey Dread' Campbell were on its staff. Its music catalogue was reportedly a formidable one, particularly its collection of roots-reggae from the 1970s.

The JBC was sold to the RJR Communications Group in 1997.