Ministry takes over Reggae Month

Observer senior reporter

Monday, February 04, 2019

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This year's Dennis Brown Tribute c oncert is under new management as the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport is reclaiming full oversight of the programme for Reggae Month.

“I have taken over full oversight and direct control of the month-long celebrations,” Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

She suggested that this is necessary with 2019 being the 50th anniversary of the birth of reggae music.

The minister recalled that, originally, the entertainment ministry was responsible for putting together the official programme of events for February, recognised in Jamaica as Reggae Month.

This month's activities were launched January 20 at Ribbiz, Victoria Pier, on the Kingston waterfront.

One of the signature events is the Dennis Brown Tribute Concert, which is scheduled for February 24 at the Kingston Waterfront. It is being organised by veteran music producer Junior Lincoln, who is also financial director for the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), and Trevor “Leggo” Douglas of Leggo's Recording Studio, located Orange Street in downtown Kingston, where Brown was born. It is also where many leading reggae artistes first recorded.

Lincoln said yesterday that the team is currently putting together a line-up for the Dennis Brown Tribute Concert, which should include Brown's former backing band, Lloyd Parks and We the People, as well as veteran guitarist/producer Earl “Chinna” Smith and his Inna Di Yard Binghistra.

“We are adding artistes to the list as we go along and by midweek we should have a line-up for the show. But we usually use artistes who grew up with Dennis, or who were influenced by his music,” Lincoln explained.

Brown died in July 1999 at age 42. He is considered by many to be reggae's most influential singer.

Reggae Month originated in 2008 when the government announced February as the month in which the music is celebrated. Additionally, the month features birthdays of Brown, also known as the Crown Prince of Reggae (February 1) and Bob Marley (February 6).

However, this was changed in 2009, when the JaRIA, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, was formed. Through the Reggae Month Committee, JaRIA was given the task of coordinating events and activities.

Grange said that the ministry has been involved in streamlining and co-ordinating activities, with the support of JaRIA which will have specific responsibility for some events.

“We are ensuring that everything is more streamlined and well coordinated, and we are working with the Ministry of Tourism on the signature events, as well as other events which are happening during the month and have been listed in the programme,” she added.

Events on the Reggae Month calendar are: Reggae Celebrates Bob, which is scheduled for the Bob Marley Museum on February 6; Reggae Films in the Park, which opens on Friday at Emancipation Park, New Kingston, and continue for the next two Fridays; Ribbiz Reggae on the Waterfront on February 10 at Victoria Pier; Amateur Night On The Mount at the same venue on February 12; the Global Reggae Conference scheduled for February 13-16 at the Ruins; the Rita Marley Foundation's annual Public Speaking Competition on February 15; Rockabessa Herb and Music Festival on February 24 in St Ann; the Reggae Month Exhibition, which opens on February 25.

The Reggae Gold Awards on February 27 will honour 50 Jamaicans who have contributed significantly to the development of the music.

Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, assistant director-general for culture at UNESCO and Chile's former culture minister, will be special guest for the last week of the month.

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