EWAN Simpson, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), says plans are in high gear for this year's staging of Reggae Month which is celebrated in February. According to the chairman, his organisation will be ensuring the celebrations are more inclusive this time around.
"The plans are progressing well and the board has been meeting consistently. We're also negotiating with our government and private sector partners in order to bring high-quality entertainment presentations across the country," he told the Jamaica Observer.
"In fact, we're going to take some of our Reggae Month stagings outside of Kingston, to Montego Bay and Ocho Rios. And we'll be staging some day time events to expand the offerings of Reggae Month, free to the public," he continued.
After a two-year absence, Reggae Month kicks off this year with Reggae Wednesdays on the Kingston Waterfront. The chairman feel the venue is quite fitting.
"February 1 will be the first Reggae Wednesday on the Kingston Waterfront. We're bringing the sounds of reggae to the waterfront… to the city of reggae. That is how we want to celebrate the coming out of COVID; the rebirth and re-energising of Kingston as a creative city of music. This is what JaRIA believes we should do and we're partnering to make it happen," he said.
Simpson, who is an attorney-at-law, said changes would also be coming to another signature event — the annual JaRIA Honour Awards.
"We have an awards launch planned for Reggae Month. We will be adding new categories to our awards this year. The winners of those awards will be voted by members of JaRIA only… not the general public, just JaRIA members. So one of the things we'll be encouraging people to do is to sign up for membership before the end of January, because members who sign up after that will not be able to vote. JaRIA members who are paid up in the month of January will be able to select the Album of the Year — reggae, dancehall, and gospel. The nominees will be announced and voting will begin in February, while the awards ceremony will be in April," he said.
"Reggae Month will kick-start a year long-list of events for JaRIA. Reggae Month is when we launch everything," he continued.
Reggae Month was first celebrated in 2008.