An ode to Jamaica

Thursday, June 28, 2012    

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WHETHER it is the Festival Song (later Popular Song) Contest or artistes just expressing their patriotism, Jamaica has inspired many a pop song. Here are some of the memorable tributes to the Land of Wood and Water.

Jamaica Move Up: By Al and the Vibrators, placed third in the 1967 Festival Song Contest won by The Jamaicans with Baba Boom. Recently covered by Freddie McGregor.

Smile Jamaica: Bob Marley recorded this easy listener in 1976 at Harry J Studio in Kingston, and cut another version for producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry. It was a year of political turbulence in Jamaica, and the song was used as the theme for the Smile Jamaica concert in Kingston in December.

I Man Born Ya: Pluto Shervington's heartfelt song about staying put 'a yard' was released in the mid-1970s when there was mass middle-class flight to North America, sparked by fear Jamaica was being led into communism by the then prime minister Michael Manley.

Land of My Birth: This 1978 gem by Eric Donaldson won the Festival Song Contest that year. Written by Winston Watson (who also wrote the 1977 winner Sweet Jamaica, also sung by Donaldson), Land of My Birth has become the standard for Jamaican patriotism.

Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Dan Yard: Tinga Stewart's second 'festival' winner came in 1981. Became a national catch phrase.

Give Thanks and Praise: There was no controversy in 1987 when singer Roy Rayon won the Popular Song Contest with his revival-inspired tribute to Jamaica's silver anniversary.

Sweet Jamaica: Deejay Josey Wales made his name on the Stur Gav sound system but found mainstream success in the late 1980s with this ode to Jamaican lifestyle and culture.

Sweet Jamdown: One of the common sense songs that announced culture deejay Tony Rebel in the early 1990s.





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