A perfect synergy it was. That is, last month’s series of Black History and Reggae Month events will be talked about for years to come. In Miramar, Florida, the kick-off event held at the City’s Cultural Center, was an informative and lively affair that was attended by a slew of notable attendees to witness the official launching of an exciting month of an eclectic blend of food, culture, artistry, history, along with A-list award ceremonies and an outdoor concert. And if that was not enough, ‘Di Clash – Rumble in Miramar’ showcased Jamaica’s marvelous sound system culture. And so, let’s begin the narrative and photographic journey of the happenings that brought the masses to Miramar to immerse themselves in the best that the Caribbean diaspora community in the United States has to offer in celebration of its vibrant cultural heritage and musical landscape.
Black History and Reggae Month Events Kick-Off – Miramar Cultural Center
Dubbed ‘Black History Meets Reggae’, Miramar’s Black History and Reggae Month events series launch was a fun-filled and entertaining introductory segment to the action-packed list of happenings that would take place in February 2022. Several notables were in attendance—including the City of Miramar Commissioner, Alexandra P. Davis; Miramar Vice Mayor and Commissioner, Yvette Colbourne; Vice Mayor and Former Miramar Commissioner, Maxwell B. Chambers; Eddy Edwards—President/CEO of Jamaica Jerk Festival USA; Oliver Mair—Jamaica Consul General, Miami (Southern USA); Joy Smith, City of Westpark Commissioner; Pat Montague, President Pat Montague Marketing & Promotions; music mogul Abebe Lewis (of Circle House Studios in Miami), whose father Ian Lewis is the leader of Inner Circle; Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist, Don Yute, DJ Mikey Mike of WZOP/WZPP FM radio of Ft. Lauderdale, and pioneering radio broadcaster, Mr. Clinton Lindsay.
Bob Marley, Inner Circle, Clinton Lindsay Received High Praise and Recognition at Reggae Icon Awards – Miramar Banquet Hall
Taking place at the City of Miramar’s Banquet Hall, which is in the Cultural Center Complex, the 2022 installment of the Reggae Icon Awards presentation ceremony was one for the ages. The event was a red-carpet affair that was star-studded in that it featured an A-list of attendees—which included several members of the legendary Marley family: Rita Marley (wife of Bob), Cedella Marley (daughter of Bob), and Skip Marley (grandson of Bob). Also in the building was the Inner Circle Band, as well as music mogul, Abebe Lewis, who is the son of founding band member, Ian Lewis. In addition, former Broward County (Florida) Mayor and Commissioner, Dale V.C. Holness; Clinton Lindsay; Consul General, Oliver Mair; City of West Park (Florida) Commissioner, Joy Smith; Eddy Edwards—President/CEO of Jamaica Jerk Festival USA; and a number of Miramar City Officials—including Mayor Wayne Messam, Alexandra P. Davis, Yvette Colbourne, and Maxwell B. Chambers.
Started by Commissioner Alexandra Davis in 2019, the Reggae Icon Awards Presentation serves the purpose of recognizing the valuable contributions of notable persons in reggae music. So too, there is a Marcus Garvey award component—which recognizes a local champion in the fight for equality and justice with respect to minority groups. In that spirit, the 2022 Marcus Garvey award went to Dale V.C. Holness in light of, not only his many years as a public servant, but also his tireless advocacy in favor of the attainment of equal opportunities for minorities. Congrats to Mr. Holness in garnering such as prestigious award!
A pioneering radio broadcaster, Mr. Clinton Lindsay was recognized and received an Icon Award for his groundbreaking contributions to reggae music spanning over four decades. As such, Mr. Lindsay has certainly been a propelling force where the development and promotion of reggae music in the U.S.A. is concerned. And he is also multifaceted in that he has donned many different hats in the reggae music industry: promoter, booking agent, artist manager, journalist, publisher, and founder of New York’s inaugural Reggae awards presentation–which is named after his daughter Tamika; hence, ‘The Tamika Reggae Awards.’
Founded in the late 1960’s in Jamaica’s capital city of Kingston, the legendary Inner Circle Band has certainly amassed a vault of hits over its much lauded career span. After the band’s former lead singer, Jacob Miller, tragically passed away in 1980 as a result of an auto accident, the group moved to Miami, Florida and, thereafter, released several massive hit singles—most notably, ‘Sweat (A-La-La-La-La-Long…)’ and ‘Bad Boys’ (What You Gonna Do When They Come For You?)’—the latter which became the infectious theme song for the popular American TV show, ‘Cops’. What’s more, Inner Circle today is quite active in touring and recording, as well as being at the helm of Circle House Studios in Miami.
The late Reggae King, Bob Marley, was recognized and received the prestigious Jamaica 60th Legacy Award. As such, several members of the Marley family were on hand to receive his Legacy Award with ’nuff gratitude’. And perhaps the most powerful and gripping moment of the evening’s proceedings was certainly when Bob’s grandson, Skip Marley, took centerstage with his guitar in-hand and sang his grandfather’s epic ‘Redemption Song’. The iconic wife of Bob, Rita, was also present to witness the award being presented to her late husband.
Afro Carib Festival Headlined by Grammy-Nominated Reggae Star, Protoje, and Afrobeat Star, Afro B – Miramar Regional Park
The City of Miramar’s announcement that the Afro Carib Festival was returning this year after the two-year pause (due to the grinding Covid-19 Pandemic) was met with much excitement and anticipation of the actual event—which took place under the canopy of the Amphitheater at Miramar’s Regional Park. Aside from the concert itself, the venue was filled with a variety of food vendors dishing out their Caribbean and African culinary specialties, as well as the selling of various articles of apparel and other merchandise.
Grammy nominated, roots revival reggae superstar, Protoje, certainly did not disappoint as he delivered a sizzling set full of conscious vibes and song gems that included ‘Blood Money’ and ‘Who Knows’ (featuring his good friend, Chronixx). And widely known Afro beats artist, Afro B, whose colossal hit ‘Drogba (Joanna)’ has seemingly taken airwaves across the world by storm, also gave a splendid set. Haitian artist and group, WID, were also well received by the packed house with a great stage performance.
Rounding off the series of Black History and Reggae Month events was the ‘Rumble in Miramar’–which was an exhibition of Jamaica’s coveted sound system culture. The event also served as a wonderful opportunity for young and upcoming DJs (selectors) as well as sound systems to build their brand and name through participating in ‘Di Clash’–which also featured Jamaica’s world-famous selector and sound system, Tony Matterhorn, who has surely had his share of musical dust-ups or clashes over the years.
Sound systems in Jamaica trace their roots back to the 1950’s on the island where venerable sound systems like King Tubby, King Jammy, Stone Love, Studio One, Downbeat, and Duke Reid’s the Trojan ruled the streets of Kingston. What’s more, Reggae singers and dancehall artists also aligned themselves with sound systems to broadened their listening base through voicing their new songs and dubplates on popular riddims or attending the dancehall sound system sessions where entire communities would gather on a lawn to listen to the latest tracks of their favorite artists. The reggae singers and dancehall artists would also appear in person to give live performances on the sound system by toasting/rapping their lyrics.
In fact, Clive Campbell, popularly known as DJ Kool Herc used the sound system concept in throwing a block party under the name of ‘DJ Kool Herc and the Herculoids’ at his 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartment complex in the Bronx, New York City. The party centered around a sound system that DJ Kool Herc had built and, the party also featured ‘toasting’ segments just like what DJ Kool Herc recalled U Roy doing on King Tubby’s Hi Fi sound system back in the streets of Kingston, Jamaica. In using two turntables, DJ Kool Herc introduced a technique called the ‘Merry-Go-Round’. At that, hip hop in the United States was born as, in essence, DJ Kool Herc had introduced his American friends to rap at that block party dubbed the ‘Back to School Jam’ on August 11, 1973.
Many thanks to the City of Miramar and all its officials for their presentation and hosting of such an array of top caliber events. At that, Miramar–which has one of the U.S.A.’s largest Caribbean and African populations–was without a doubt South Florida’s hub of Caribbean and African community inflected events that brought out the masses to revel in the marvelous and vibrant cultures of the those diasporas.
All photos taken by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.