WHEN Rod Hallett arrives in Jamaica today, it will be to launch a project close to the British music industry veteran's heart.
Hallett is president of International Touring at promotions giant AEG Live. He is also main man behind the July 25 to August 6 extravaganza showcasing Jamaican pop culture at the London 02 Indig02 Arena.
For Hallett, who started his career as a manager/booking agent for top reggae acts like Tappa Zukie and Burning Spear, the show goes beyond business.
"It's a personal thing for me. When I heard Jamaica was celebrating its 50th anniversary I said, 'let's do something here'," he told the Jamaica Observer.
Details of the Indigo 2 shows will be given at a media event tomorrow at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston.
The country's music, films, folklore and lifestyle will be forefront, as well as an exhibition on the work of reggae legend Bob Marley. The event takes place during the London Olympics.
According to Hallett, he and his team have assembled "the most powerful reggae bill seen in England."
The cast is built around several artistes who made a major mark on the British pop charts during the 1960s and 1970s. They include singers Jimmy Cliff, Max Romeo, Junior Murvin, Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths and Freddie McGregor; producer Lee 'Scratch' Perry, musicians Ernie Ranglin, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and old school deejays U Roy and Big Youth.
Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley, Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage and Shaggy are some of the contemporary acts scheduled to perform. Dub poet Mutabaruka and the No-Maddz band are also part of a diverse card.
While music is the event's dominant theme, as many as 12 Jamaican films will be shown at the venue's Vu Cinema. Several Jamaican plays will also be on show.
"Our whole plan was to make this a celebration of Jamaican culture, not just music," Hallett said.
Located in south east London, the 02 Arena is a multi-faceted indoor arena that has featured the biggest names in pop music, including Bon Jovi. The area hostimg th reggae shows has a seating capacity of 2,500.
It was reggae music that first drew Rod Hallett to Jamaican culture in the early 1970s. Born in Sussex, south England, he said he was blown away by The Wailers' 1973 album, Catch a Fire, and began collecting reggae records as a teenager.
By the late 1970s, he became manager for reggae acts like deejay Tappa Zukie and handled concert bookings for Burning Spear, Third World and Toots and the Maytals. During the 1980s, Hallett worked with British reggae band UB40, one of the most successful acts of that decade.
Hallett credits his time with UB40 for his branching out in the pop arena.
He has organised tours and shows for Prince, Duran Duran, Justin
Timberlake, Justin Beiber and Mary J Blige.
He was one of the persons coordinating Michael Jackson's highly-anticipated This Is It world tour in 2009.
AEG is one of the most successful entertainment conglomerates in the world. They are owners of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Galaxy football team and the Los Angeles Kings ice hockey team.