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Entertainment

BBC airs reggae special today

BY RICHARD JOHNSON Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 26, 2014    

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FROM as far back as the 1950s, when West Indians migrated in droves to England following World War II, Jamaican music has had an impact on that country.

That impact flourished in the 1960s as ska followed by rocksteady infiltrated British society. The cultural exchange attained higher heights a decade later with the rise of reggae and Bob Marley. The tradition continues today.

Last week, a crew from British radio stations BBC1 and BBC Xtra were in Jamaica capturing the mood and vibe of the local music scene for a five-hour documentary to be aired this evening at 7:00 pm (British time).

Heading the crew is Willber Willberforce, a Briton of Jamaican extraction (his parents being from Kingston and Montego Bay).

He gave his thoughts on why Jamaican music is so important to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

"Reggae infiltrates everything, reggae has always been cool. We see and hear its influences everywhere. Listen to a Katie Perry, Gwen Stefani... you hear it in hip hop. There is a richness to reggae and that's why it has lasted so long, plus its unique sound makes it instantly recognisable. Plus, it re-invents itself and, therefore, reaches the generations," stated Willberforce.

He noted that this is the fourth time that the BBC has come to Jamaica to gather material. The last time was in 2012, during celebrations for the country's 50th anniversary of independence from Britain.

"This time we are looking at some of the new, as well as established acts, to get a true picture of what's happening here in Jamaica, the mecca of reggae music. The show will feature veteran broadcaster David Rodigan, who will examine the roots and culture side of the music, and disc jocks Robbo Ranx who will look at the dancehall aspect and Toddla T who is more into the electronic side, speaking with producers here. It is aimed at offering different perspectives on the music and reaching all generations," he explained.

Among the artistes showcased in the marathon production are Tarrus Riley, who recorded a set live at Tuff Gong Studios on Wednesday night; Pentatuch Band, T O K, Luciano, Jah9, Chronixx, Kabaka Pyramid, Jah Bouks and Addis Pablo, son of dub visionary Augustus Pablo.

In its first and final hours, the show offers a mixture of the music produced in Jamaica. Rodigan, Robbo Ranx and Toddla T each host an hour highlighting their specialty.

"We wanted to present the package in a right way in order to push the music generally. We realise that if it is broadcast in a certain way we risk alienating people," Willberforce said.

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