February officially 'Reggae Month'

When Governor-General Sir Kenneth Hall acknowledged those gathered in the ballroom of King’s House, Hope Road, St. Andrew, on Thursday morning, he asked if he should say reggae or music industry. There was a general call of ‘music’ and he duly hailed them, adding “and particularly members of the reggae family”.

Those members of the reggae family duly applauded enthusiastically after he read the proclamation beginning, “Whereas reggae is the heartbeat of Jamaica”, and ending, “I hereby proclaim the month of February to be celebrated now and henceforth as Reggae Month.”

And they applauded also when Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Olivia Grange, in giving thanks all around, asked, “Isn’t this a wonderful feeling? From the corners of Trench Town and west Kingston to the halls of King’s House.”

Associated first with reggae

In the proclamation, Hall read that “people associate us first with (Bob) Marley” and termed reggae “this special Jamaican creation”. And when Prime Minister Bruce Golding spoke after the Governor-General, he paid special respects to the “artistes, writers, arrangers, producers, promoters and all those engaged in the Jamaican music industry”.

“In the case of Jamaica, there is no aspect of our culture that more clearly distinguishes us from the rest of the world as our music,” he said. Golding noted that for most countries, their culture is parochial, but Jamaica is different in that it has moved out to the rest of the world.

He noted that in different places across the world where he goes some people know Marcus Garvey and Michael Manley. “One or two may have heard of P.J. Patterson, Edward Seaga, Portia Simpson Miler. Perhaps none have heard of a Bruce Golding,” he said, with a smile. “But there is no country in the world that you go that Bob Marley is not known and recognised … Bob Marley symbolises, personifies, Jamaican music,” he said.

Reggae pioneers

Golding noted that the Jamaican music industry developed independently of government and established businesses, naming some of the pioneers who “cut the bush” as Laurel Aitken, Jackie Edwards, Desmond Dekker and Chris Blackwell.

And he said that the Reggae Month will not just be a series of parties and stage shows, but “it is going to be a month where we bring together our academic resources …”

The official Reggae Month logo was unveiled by Golding, singers Tarrus Riley and Etana and producers Bunny Lee and King Jammys, as Grange read the background to the logo, ending with the message ‘Imagine and Believe’.

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