Entertainment

JCDC planning ska's rebirth

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 21, 2014    

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THE Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) is adding a new event to its calendar this year.

The event, Heart of Ska Festival, is slated for the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre in St Andrew on Saturday, August 2.

According to Dahlia Harris, director of culture in the Ministry of Youth and Culture, the festival's main objective is to reposition Jamaica as the home of ska music, which has become increasingly popular in Europe and USA.

"We have lost widespread engagement with the form here in Jamaica. The festival's name, Heart of Ska, speaks to the genesis of the genre, rooted not just in the musical form, but in fashion, movement and discourse. Ska is a way of life and we felt it was important to begin the process of re-establishment," Harris told the Jamaica Observer.

A forerunner to rocksteady and reggae, ska is a Jamaican music that originated in the 1950s. It is a mix of jazz, rhythm and blues, and many other styles.

The sound's greatest exponents were The Skatalites, a band that included Jamaica's best musicians. Saxophonists Tommy McCook, Roland Alphonso and Lester Sterling; trumpeter Johnny 'Dizzy' Moore; the gifted trombonist Don Drummond; bassist Lloyd Brevett; drummer Lloyd Knibb and guitarist Jerome 'Jah Jerry' Haines were a formidable unit weaned on American jazz.

However, it was Clarendon-born Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop, that broke ska big in the United Kingdom where it was embraced by working-class white youth called Skinheads. The track was cover of American singer Barbie Gaye's minor hit.

The festival will be held in partnership with the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA).

"Ahead of the actual event, JaRIA will be conducting training workshops with live bands across the island, and this year will focus on increasing their ska vocabulary. This will have significant impact on the quality and range of live music that will be available across the island. We are also hopeful that through their own creative talents, the bands may generate a contemporary Ska sound," said Harris.

"The music community sees this as a major developmental programme, and are very excited about the prospects. The bands will showcase their skills every Tuesday in July as part of our Live Music Tuesdays programme," she continued.

Harris believes fans of the sound will be in for an amazing journey as they should come away with a more in-depth knowledge of the people behind the music while appreciating its global impact.

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