Jamaicans at 50, and their Music

By: Denise N. Fyffe.
Copyright © 2012, Poetess defy, Denise N. Fyffe

Jamaicans are serious about their music. There is no other state in the world, where every person, man, woman or child is singing and dancing from birth. Be it reggae, ska, dancehall or gospel. We have so many Jamaican churches per square mile and on every street corner for a reason. We are used to being stirred by the chords of the church organ on a Sunday or Saturday morning. It is a well known fact that Saturday Adventists can sing, like no other. Melodies, harmonies, unisons, duets, acapella; church music is our foundation.

Jamaicans inherited reggae music, which in and of itself is a melting pot of other forms of our music, like ska, mento and R&B. We are blessed to have been derived from African heritage. Every Jamaican would be hard pressed to stand still when the conga drums start beat and the rhythm just take over their bones. Our hips start gyrating and rocking and our feet start tapping like they have a mind of their own.

Reggae music has been heralded and sent abroad by many of our famous Jamaican musicians like Toots and the Maytals, Ziggy Marley, Buju Banton, Beres Hammond, Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh, Morgan’s Heritage, Etana, Damian Marley, Stephen Marley especially Bob Marley. He is a musical and international legend, however many would remind of the deep history, that he too had to learn it from someone. Nonetheless, he was the chosen vessel of scores of hit reggae music that even to this day are diamonds among other substandard songs. Jamaicans are built for music.

Groups like the Jamaican dance group, Dance Expressions are now a big part of our culture. What makes them so unique and present in the media, is that they infuse every one of our dance moves from the beginning of our African Jamaican heritage. They have focused on polishing their presentation and teaching others about our heritage. They are especially present in choreographing many dance sequence for the local and some international artistes.

This year as an independent nation we turn 50. Jamaica 50 celebrations are a yearlong celebration. It is propelled by almost every major Jamaican event that will be taking place in 2012. The 2012 Olympics will also feel the Jamaican vibe. To mark this momentous occasion, a cadre of Jamaican artistes – Tessanne Chin, Damian Marley, Chevelle Franklin, Tifa, Tarrus Riley, Wayne Marshall, Beres Hammond, Assassin, Romain Virgo and Shaggy – have come together and produced, ‘On a Mission’. This song is more of a feel good song than the epitome of Jamaican reggae music; nevertheless its good music and it calls for a celebration.

Music is to Jamaicans, as air is to a human being.

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