Kingston, Jamaica – One day after a 30-day celebration of Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the USA, reggae fans throughout the world marked the 21st anniversary of International Reggae Day, a 24-hour no-holds barred celebration designed to “inspire, unite and uplift.”
Fact is, that was the theme the organizers offered to rally partners from 23 countries and as many cities on July One to engage a One Love festival and tribute that included an all-day conference, yoga in the park, digital display, concert and awards presentation as well as social media interaction and radio and television engagement.
Throughout the day, reggae fans converged on social media using Instagram to register salutations and acknowledgements of the 24-hour, eventful anniversary festival.
Sons and a daughter of the king of reggae — Bob Marley– posted separate and personalized messages of support for the day.
Cedella, Rohan and Kymani Marley, hip-hop artist Busta Rhymes, organizers of the island’s most consistent music festival –Reggae Sumfest, hotelier Adam Stewart, who is also the son of Sandals Hotel founder Butch Stewart and many others used the hash tag #Thisismyreggae to acknowledge the day and its importance to the global community.
A flagship broadcast of talk and music from the Rock was streamed live from irietimes.com and appeased reggaefarians throughout the diaspora as well as fans of the genre in — In Australia, Dubai, England, Canada and France.
Anchored in Jamaica, an-all day conference, an afternoon digital display of reggae poster contestants, an evening marathon concert and numerous radio and television programming provided the engine for the island’s virtual reggae destination and for visitors and returning nationals to identify.
At the Kingston airport — Norman ManleyInternational – prominently displayed is a welcome billboard strategically positioned to greet arriving passengers entering the Caribbean nation.
The prominent message brandished a message President Barack Obama might have appreciated during his recent visit when he addressed nationals saying: “wha ah gwaan massive?”
Not since his one-day visit here has so much excitement prevailed throughout a day for any one event.
Massive in 23 countries – Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, England, France, India, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Peru, Venezuela, Spain, Switzerland, USA (numerous states throughout) Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal – and in as many cities in many countries – shared the revelry by marking the day in a myriad of ways but mostly rallying around the red, gold and green colors associated with the genre.
Fashion shows, dance contests, theatrical productions, art exhibitions, book launches, record releases, film screenings, concerts, specialized radio and television presentations lauded the day. HBO in the USA programmed the documentary “Marley” to mark the day.
Clubs in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Florida, Honolulu and others headlined reggae acts to host patrons.
International Reggae Day 2015 Awards were presented to icons of Jamaican sound system movement.
Merritone Music, King Jammy, Stone Love Movement, Prince Buster’s Voice of the People, the late Louise Fraser-Bennett, as well as Japanese sound system Mighty Crown and the Jamaica Sound System Federation were honored.
The day’s celebrations culminated with a concert at a Kingston club where reggae super-stars hob-nobbed showing support for the milestone achievement Davis and her pioneering concept has buoyed for 21 years.
Among the artists that appeared were Marcia Griffiths, Big Youth, Bounty Killa, Junior Reid, with performances by Beenie Man, Bushman, I-Wayne, Chuck Fenda, Cherine Anderson, Ken Boothe, Denyque, Marla Brown, daughter of Dennis Brown, the late Crown Prince of Reggae.
Mixmaster J, a UK-based selector provided a variety of Jamaican music beginning with lover’s rock, rock-steady music, transitions gradually to dancehall and reggae. He seemed to truly enjoy his first time performance on the island and the crowds seemed particularly endearing to his humble and unique style of showcasing the island’s best resource.