Jamaican musicians and writers took the world by storm in 2015. A permanent home was found for the staging of Reggae Month events, and the first International Peter Tosh Day was celebrated around the world to mark his accomplishments and human rights activities. Chronixx displayed his concern for local conditions by using his three-parish tour to highlight his initiatives for change in Jamaica. The makers of the film “Jamaican Mafia” utilized online distribution to make sure the film was seen by everyone who wanted to see it, and Omi made the Top 10 in Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 Singles rankings. Bob Marley’s grandson Skip launched a solo career, and Lady Saw made history as the first women to close dancehall night at Reggae Sumfest, subsequently leaving dancehall to follow her faith. Marlon James became the first Jamaican author to win the UK’s Man Booker Literary Prize, a globally prestigious award, for novel about the attempted assassination of reggae’s Bob Marley. Billboard’s selection of British singer Joss Stone as “Reggae Artiste of the Year” caused controversy as she topped veteran reggae musicians in album sales for 2015.
PERMANENT VENUE FOUND FOR REGGAE MONTH EVENTS
The celebrations associated with Reggae Month (February) found a permanent home at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Center in St. Andrew. The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) prepared for the month-long staging. Charles Campbell, the executive director of the association, said the group was better prepared in 2015 than it had ever been because of the availability of the new venue at Reggae Village, which allowed for much more planning than in previous years.
CHRONIXX TOURED PARISHES TO ACT AS “CHANGE AGENT”
Chronixx, who has been characterized as a revolutionary musician, made a three-parish tour in March 2015. The tour featured the musician’s Zincfence Redemption Band and was the first leg of his Capture Land Jamaica Tour. Chronixx stated that he used the tour to promote and further his work as an agent of change in the country.
NAMING OF BRITISH SINGER AS REGGAE ARTISTE OF THE YEAR CAUSES UPROAR
Local Jamaican fans expressed outrage when Billboard Magazine selected British singer Joss Stone as its Reggae Artiste of the Year for 2015. The move was viewed by some as an insult to veteran reggae artistes. Billboard justified the decision, saying the designation was based on record sales. According to the magazine, Stone outsold Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jam Cure and Morgan Heritage.
FIRST PETER TOSH DAY CELEBRATED WORLDWIDE
April 20 was designated International Peter Tosh Day and was celebrated for the first time in 2015. The day received its designation in honor of the legendary reggae musician and human rights activist. During his entire life, Tosh worked to support equal rights, expand Jamaican culture and music recognition throughout the world. He also supported the legalization of marijuana.
“JAMAICAN MAFIA” FILM USED ONLINE DISTRIBUTION TO EXPAND REACH
The creators of “Jamaican Mafia” decided to expand the viewership for the film by giving audiences worldwide the chance to buy it online. Dale Foci, executive producer and former manager of recording artiste Erupt, noted that the creative team took this action because it was unhappy with its distribution contract, a six-month delay in distribution to theaters, and the impatience of the audience to view the film.
OMI HITS TOP 10 IN U.S. BILLBOARD RANKINGS
Omi, noted Jamaican singer, was included in Top Ten of Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 Singles Chart in the United States. He is the seventh artiste from Jamaica to achieve this ranking. A remix of Omi’s 2012 single, “Cheerleader,” rose from Number 11 to Number 7. This was its 12th week on Billboard’s Digital Reggae Singles chart. “Cheerleader” sold more than 641,000 copies in the U.S. and was certified “gold.”
SKIP MARLEY, BOB MARLEY’S GRANDSON, MADE SOLO DEBUT
Skip Marley, the grandson of reggae legend Bob Marley, launched a solo career with his project “Cry to Me.” The track got considerable attention from several media outlets and was recorded as a way to empower women in the same tradition as Bob Marley’s “No Woman Nun Cry.” Skip Marley previously performed on stage and in the recording studio with family members Damian and Stephen Marley.
JAMAICA HELD FIRST NATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL IN 2015
The first national film festival in the history of Jamaica was held in July of 2015. The festival aimed to promote the work of local filmmakers and to help them reach a global audience. During its five-days, the festival screened 43 films at various venues around Kingston. It also included workshops and conferences on ways to create business opportunities for individuals working in the film industry and offered guidelines on how to promote products for export worldwide. The festival featured a reggae concert at Tuff Gong International Recording Studios, founded in 1965 by the legendary Bob Marley.
MARLON JAMES BECAME FIRST JAMAICAN TO WIN MAN BOOKER LITERARY PRIZE
Author Marlon James was the first Jamaican to win the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction in the United Kingdom. The prize provides a monetary award of £50,000 (US$77,000). James won the literary prize for his novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which tells the story of the attempted assassination of reggae musician Bob Marley. James currently lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has written two previous novels.
LADY SAW WAS FIRST WOMAN TO CLOSE DANCEHALL NIGHT AT REGGAE SUMFEST
Lady Saw became the first female to close the popular Dancehall night at the Reggae Sumfest music festival’s 23rd staging. Lady Saw said she was “humbled” to be chosen to close the evening and noted how far women have come in the music industry. She said she wanted to show that women “can do it as well as the men and even better.” Lady Saw, 46, first performed at Sumfest in 1994. Later in 2015, Lady Saw was baptized into the Christian community and left dancehall to follow her “calling.” Her decision to leave dancehall was made after the death of the young genre artiste J Capri in an auto accident.