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Salute to trailblazing Reggae Sunsplash

Andrea Davis with England’s Mixmaster J.
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It has been 26 years since Andrea Davis launched a July 1 celebration she declared International Reggae Day.

From Kingston, Jamaica she helmed Jamaica Arts Holding (JAH) a company totally devoted to the preservation of reggae music.

This anniversary she is collaborating with the British Black Music Congress to establish a prominent July One red, gold and green presence in Europe.

Together with organizers across the pond, they will regale the genre birthe from the tiny Caribbean island and since its arrival has exported the beat to a global reach encompassing every continent.

Throughout the years, IRD has been marked by concerts, symposia, tree plantings, photo exhibitions, fashion shows, yoga demonstrations, poster competitions, award ceremonies, digital connections and a plethora of distinguishing efforts that merit acknowledgement of contributors.

This year Reggae Sunsplash, a marathon concert series festival will be lauded for its trailblazing showcase of Jamaica’s most talented performers.

It is the 40th anniversary year since Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley performed on a stage with Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Third World and some of the now legendary names to promote the music revered by his Rastafarian colleagues.

Also known as “the king’s music” it captivated international audiences who traveled each summer to the island to revel to the hard-driving beat. From Marley’s pioneering appearance which spawned “Reggae by Bus” the alleged first concert documentary to capture what became a movement.

Davis and her associates have not forgotten the enterprising spirit that propelled the annual and will fully acknowledge the role Synergy organizers played in mounting the premier summer music festival to spotlight the nation’s home-grown music.

She credits Reggae Sunsplash for being the pioneering music festival that developed the music of Jamaica.

“It was a trailblazing initiative to showcase reggae music to the world,” she said. “It created a template for reggae festivals that has been used to great success worldwide and we cannot downplay its role in taking the music international and raising the bar for the careers of countless artists.”

“When it began in 1978 it is key to note that it also helped to revive tourism in Montego Bay because at the time all the hotels would close for the summer and it was Sunsplash that revived the summer season for the tourism industry in Jamaica.”

Davis told the Jamaica Observer that “it created that festival experience that sought to showcase the best of Jamaican music and culture…that mix of sounds comprising live and recorded music -- the whole flavor of vendors and that reggae experience that we have come to know and love and can be attributed to Sunsplash.”

Of the union of Jamaicans who mobilized as Synergy Productions she added that they were able to create “a vibe that makes a reggae festival much different from any other music festival out there…they were first to come to the market, both local and international and set up a level of production as big as they did for reggae music.”

Both Jamaica and England — along with a virtual global audience — will regale Reggae Sunsplash.

Davis has also touted the milestone UNESCO announcement last year that Jamaica’s reggae music is now listed among the world’s protected Intangible Cultural Heritage.

The recognition affords the island, particular status as one of the Caribbean’s protected treasures.

Talking Copyright: Exploring UNESCO “Protection” of Reggae is a discussion slated for the City University of London.

During a seminar, exploration of the meaning and interpretation of that declaration will be discussed along with a dedicated forum to assess the ramification of infringement on copyrights.

Other events include -- tree planting ceremonies, media outreach, fashion shows and art exhibitions.

In front of Hawkeye Records in London, two panels will be unveiled at the site in Harlesden which is regarded as the capital of reggae in Britain.

Screening of the film “Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records” will enlighten British audiences about the influence of reggae on British pop music.

In addition, IRD / Black Music Month activities includes a Reggae in the Academy Reggae Research presentation, celebration of VP Records at 40 years, two Windrush Generation presentations for AntiUniversity Now, a Women in Reggae Photo exhibition with sound system and guest performers and a long list of tributes to the genre.

IRD promotes the wearing of the colors of red, gold and green on July 1. The days’ assumed tributes also include playing of the music and using #thisismyreggae in posts on social media.

For the 1Love movement hosted by Jamaica, a tree planting initiative started many years ago will enhance audio visual presentations along with a plea to steer clear of sexist, misogynistic, violence, foul language or negative imagery.

In all on July 1, One Love is advised.

Catch You On The Inside!

Updated 1:39 pm, June 25, 2019
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