International Reggae Day (IRD), the annual global celebration of Jamaican music culture, will this year, spotlight and commemorate “60 Years of Ska music”. IRD will invite media partners around the world to highlight this important music culture which laid the foundation for Jamaica’s popular music as a global export. It is particularly fitting as the island nation also observes its 60th year of Independence.
The celebration will be powered by participating media through its virtual global media festival, complimented by a digital campaign across all social media platforms supported by key event partnerships hosted in select cities around the world. Participating media in Jamaica and internationally, are invited to spotlight the music and legends of Ska and the genre’s impact on Jamaican music culture and its global legacy.
Since its birth in Kingston from Coxsone’s Studio One to Buster’s Voice of the People, the quick tempo of Ska with its distinctive horns, was largely an instrumental music but the singers of the day from The Maytals and The Wailers to Jimmy Cliff and Derrick Morgan, soon found a way to add their distinctive vocals with many of their releases becoming classics in the genre.
The original Ska greats were many. From the genius of Jamaica’s first super band, The Skatalites with pioneering foundation musicians including Rolando Alphonso, Tommy McCook, Jackie Mittoo and Don Drummond, to hitmakers like Millie Small, Desmond Dekker, Stranger Cole and Laurel Aiken.
The early days of Ska are marked by releases like Monty Morris’ ‘Humpty Dumpty’ produced by Prince Buster in 1961 to his follow-up “Money Can’t Buy Life” along with Prince Buster’s own releases, ‘They Got to Go’, ‘They Got to Come’, ‘One Hand Washes Another’ and ‘Time Longer Than Rope’. Derrick Morgan’s ‘Forward March’, was among the biggest hits in Jamaica in 1962 and is an integral part of Jamaica’s independence soundtrack. Today Ska has undergone a revival in many parts of the world.
The first of its kind, IRD is an annual 24-hour hybrid global event anchored at ireggaeday.com on JulyOne. Founded in 1994 by Andrea Davis and proclaimed by the Governor General in 2000, IRD is produced by a team of creatives with a network of event partners around the world who have been granted gratis event licenses for 2022.
IRD celebrations in the UK are coordinated by BBM/BMC (BritishBlackMusic.com/Black Music Congress) in association with UK stakeholders Reggae Fraternity UK (RFUK), Reggae Global & Culture 2022, Sound System Outernational and Shining Stars. The collective will host a special Zoom conference and DJ mix on JulyOne in addition to media specials and other activities outside of London. Additionally, the third annual IRD UK People’s Choice Reggae Music Poll will highlight the Top 20 singles and albums of 2021. This year’s Poll will feature a new ‘Favourite UK Reggae Riddim’ category to provide fans, artistes and industry players, a new opportunity to highlight the work of UK producers and labels.
The Canadian Reggae Music Showcase produced for International Reggae Day by Rastafest Inc. and Masani Productions Inc. will be hosted at Toronto’s cultural hub, Studio M in Little Jamaica. The showcase will feature artistes from Toronto, Halifax, Ottawa, Montreal, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
Other virtual and physical events to be hosted in cities around the world include Birmingham with Mackey Banton from DubForce, Johannesburg with Ras Sipho, Sao Paulo with Rafael Costra, Beijing with General Huge and Hawaii with Dion Lawson from the Lawson King Foundation.
In addition to Ska pioneer tributes, special tributes to the legendary Mighty Diamonds and Ras Denroy Morgan will be featured for International Reggae Day. In tribute to the late Tabby Diamond Shaw and Bunny Diamond Simpson, who both passed away in April 2022, excerpts from the group’s 2021 virtual show taped at the iconic Tuff Gong Studios in Kingston, the home of Jamaican music.
In tribute to Ras Denroy Morgan, international charity Music for Love International, will release “One Perfect Love”, from what would have been his final album. The music project will fund education projects in Africa and Jamaica and for Music for Love’s Franco Nannucci, the World Premiere of this song is a message to humanity, inspired by Ras Denroy’s words.