Jamaica 50, Festival Song History and Controversy

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

Jamaica has a rich history, in various areas. Surely not the least of these is music. Jamaicans have thrived and are known to be some of the most easy going and happiest people in the world; simply, because they can ‘build’ a vibe through listening to music.

Jamaica is now 50 years, independent and Jamaica festival is just around the corner. The Jamaica Festival Music competition will certainly be in full swing and contestants will vie to present the best and most appropriate lyrics and melody to capture Jamaica 50.

Throughout the years, there have been great selections and one of the most renowned and popular is Roy Rayon ‘Jamaica 25’ song. As you can surely note, Roy Rayon has won this competition, no less than four times over the last three decades. Jamaica Festival Songs and winners produced to date include:

1. 1966 – The Maytals with “Bam Bam”
2. 1967 – The Jamaicans with “Ba Ba Boom”
3. 1968 – Desmond Dekker & The Aces with “Music Like Dirt”
4. 1969 – The Maytals with “Sweet and Dandy”
5. 1970 – Hopeton Lewis with “Boom Shaka Laka”
6. 1971 – Eric Donaldson with “Cherry Oh Baby”
7. 1972 – Toots & the Maytals with “Pomps and Pride”
8. 1973 – Morvin Brooks with “Jump In The Line”
9. 1974 – Tinga Stewart with “Play de Music”
10. 1975 – Roman Stewart with “Hooray Festival”
11. 1976 – Freddie McKay with “Dance This Ya Festival”
12. 1977 – Eric Donaldson with “Sweet Jamaica”
13. 1978 – Eric Donaldson with “Land of my Birth”
14. 1979 – The Astronauts with “Born Jamaican”
15. 1980 – Stanley & The Turbines with “Come Sing With Me”
16. 1981 – Tinga Stewart with “Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Dan Yard”
17. 1982 – The Astronauts with “Mek Wi Jam”
18. 1983 – Ras Karbi with “Jamaica I’ll Never Leave You”
19. 1984 – Eric Donaldson with “Proud to be Jamaican”
20. 1985 – Roy Rayon with “Love Fever”
21. 1986 – Stanley & The Turbines with “Dem a fe Squirm”
22. 1987 – Roy Rayon with “Give Thanks and Praise”
23. 1988 – Singer Jay with “Jamaica Land We Love”
24. 1989 – Michael Forbes with “Stop and Go”
25. 1990 – Robbie Forbes with “Island Festival”
26. 1991 – Roy Rayon with “Come Rock”
27. 1992 – Heather Grant with “Mek wi Put Things Right”
28. 1993 – Eric Donaldson with “Big It Up”
29. 1994 – Stanley & The Astronauts with “Dem a Pollute”
30. 1995 – Eric Donaldson with “Join de Line”
31. 1996 – Zac Henrry & Donald White with “Meck We Go Spree”
32. 1997 – Eric Donaldson with “Peace and Love”
33. 1998 – Neville Martin with “Jamaica Whoa”
34. 1999 – Cheryl Clarke with “Born Inna JA”
35. 2000 – Stanley Beckford with “Fi Wi Island A Boom”
36. 2001 – Roy Richards with “Lift Up Jamaica”
37. 2002 – Devon Black with “Progress”
38. 2003 – Stefan Penincilin with “Jamaican Tour Guide”
39. 2004 – Stefan Penincilin with “Ole Time Jamaica”
40. 2005 – Khalil N Pure with “Poverty”
41. 2006 – Omar Reid with “Remember the Days”
42. 2007 – Neville ‘Gunty’ Winters with “Woman A Di Beauty”
43. 2008 – Roy Rayon with “Rise and Shine”
44. 2009 – Winston Hussey with “Take Back Jamaica”
45. 2010 – Kharuso with “My Jamaica”
46. 2011 – Everton David Pessoa with “Oh if We”

This year is the magic occasion and all Jamaicans are on high alert to see who will have the best song to fit this momentous occasion. To add a little pepper to the pot, there is currently a lot of controversy about the so called ‘Official Jamaica 50 song – On a Mission’; which was produced by Orville Richard Burrell aka ‘Shaggy’. It showcased the various reggae and dancehall artistes. However, many are claiming that this auto tuned production is certainly not suitable. But, let’s stir the pot a little more because Michael Bennett produced ‘Find A Flag’ and that was said to have been the official Jamaica 50 song by the former government, which was ousted in the December 2011 general elections.

At the end of the day, Jamaicans simply want a song that is Jamaican in its entirety. The lyrics, melody, beat; everything must scream, Jamaica. This will certainly be the case, we hope, as Jamaicans will get the opportunity to have a national vote on which song will be the Official Jamaica 50 song. As for when that vote will be and which song is selected…stay tuned.

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