Jamaicans have had a love affair with country music for a very long time, a fact that surprises most people. Jamaican’s have been listening to it since the ‘20s and ‘30s, it’s regularly been played since the first radio station began operations in Jamaica, and the nation’s artists have performed covers of a wide variety of country hits.
The popularity of country-western music hasn’t abated at all since it came to the attention of listeners in Jamaica. The genre is played throughout the island and has become a tradition on Sunday afternoons.
There have been some notable collaborations between country-western music icons and Jamaican legends. One of those involved Willie Nelson, Toots of Toots & The Maytals, and Bonnie Raitt. Another was between Kenny Rogers and Wyclef Jean. Some of the reasons that Jamaicans are lifelong country music fans include the following.
1. Jamaicans could access the signals of powerful southern radio stations in the U.S. that played predominantly country music, introducing them early on to the genre.
2. Radio Jamaica Rediffusion offered a subscription service that enabled popular country artists to feature their music there. It was hugely popular, leading to covers by Jamaican artists.
3. U.S. films featuring singing cowboys such as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Ken Curtis, and Tex Ritter were played extensively in Jamaica during the ‘40s and ‘50s.
4. Country music lends itself to adaptations for reggae, ska, and dancehall versions and interpretations.
5. The music speaks to conditions and topics close to the heart of Jamaicans.
6. The country and western genre appealed to the Jamaican’s spirit of individuality and the “bad man” as a folk hero.
7. The songs tell good stories about the “people at the bottom.”
8. Jamaicans have a strong romantic streak and county music love songs resonate with them.
9. It’s easy to dance to.
10. Country music, like Jamaican music, has soul.
Photo – Deposit Photo