Sun. May 19th, 2024

Reggae Month Celebrates 15 Years

Ibo-Cooper-1970s-Jamaica-Reggae-third-world-inner-circle-edna-manley-jariaA young, bright-eyed Ibo Cooper in the '70s.

February is acknowledged worldwide as the controversial Black History Month, so it makes sense that it also doubles as Reggae Month —a movement that originated in Jamaica and has spread across the world during its decade-and-a-half of existence. Reggae music is synonymous with Jamaica and as such, it has set our country apart for its deeply spiritual, philosophical messages promoting the values of love, peace, unity, freedom and African liberation. Reggae has changed lives and fuelled revolutions around the world, and it continues to make a positive and deeply spiritual impact. 

Reggae Month was started in 2008 to honour the ongoing legacy and impact while championing and supporting the industry around Reggae. This year, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) hosts and simultaneously celebrates its anniversary. Now in its 15th year, we’re seeing for the first time its expansion outside of Kingston, which was designated a Creative City of Music by UNESCO in 2015, largely due to Reggae music. There are now events in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and streaming globally online.

Jamaican Reggae icon, the late Kingsley Michael ‘Ibo’ McKinson Cooper, founding member of JaRIA.

It is also the first year of Reggae Open University without the iconic Ibo Cooper, late legacy director, cofounder, board member and chairman, and the panel discussion reflecting on his contributions below is a veritable tear-jerker. 

Additionally, the scope of entertainment has been broadened to include Dancehall Week— kudos to the government of Jamaica for finally attempting to address its long-held stigma, embrace its cultural significance, and authenticate the genre as a child of Reggae in an ever-evolving local music industry, things should only go up from there.

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