6 August 2012 will be the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from British rule. Without question Jamaica has produced a number of gifted individuals and influential products that has made this small island. For an island of 2.5 million people Jamaica has certainly punched above its weight in attaining high standards.
The crime rate remains is a big issue and the current economic climate is rather bare and in need of some innovate and motivated energy for the younger generation to take Jamaica on an upward and inspiring curve.
Whether it is in our music (reggae,ska, mento, dancehall, rocksteady), sports (athletics, football, cricket), academia, agriculture, bauxite, food or tourism Jamaica has excelled.
But for me Jamaica’s biggest and most impressive output- both here and internationally -has been it’s music.
Jamaica has introduced to the wider world many genres of music such as ska, mento, rock steady, reggae, dancehall, raga and its unique form of folk music.
We have produced an array of superb artistes that included Dennis Brown, Marcia Griffiths, The Paragons, The Wailers, Jamaican Folk Singers, Jimmy Cliff and the Grace Thrillers.
The music that came out of labels such as Studio One, Treasure Isle, Randy, Jammy’s are still being revered by fans globally up to today. Just need to see the many reggae festivals that countries such as Poland, Japan and France put on for the public each year..
Jamaican music has continued to wow its wider world for the whole of our 50 years of independence. I didn’t realise how well know our music was until I lived in the UK from 1986. Some times I feel my fellow Jamaicans at home fail to realise the global significance of our music. Take reggae for example. How many countries can say that they invented a genre of music?
As mentioned before in a previous blog I would love to see more respect and tangible acknowledgement paid to our musicians. More artiste should have their names in lights across the island. I would love to see a Tenor Saw Avenue, Susan Cadogan Street. Jackie Mittoo Station or an Eric Donaldson Drive. A Barrington Levy Juntion, I Threes Street, Mighty Diamonds Housing Scheme or Complex, Heptones Way.
Jamaica has quite rightly acknowledged the achievements of greats with places named places after figures such as Usain Bolt, Nelson Mandela or Courtney Walsh. Some prominence has been paid to Bob Marley but reggae was not built by Bob alone.
Whether the name is recognisable in the artiste’s home town or where they eventually resided something effort should be done to keep our musicians names out there for our children to know of the rich musical history so far. But it important for us not to forget the part these performers played in ensuring Jamaica is well known and loved by fans worldwide. When you imagine that a future president of the United States had used the words of Peter Tosh in one of his college reports. Obama didn’t do too bad eh?
In my eyes these creative musicians were geniuses.
Song of the 50 years
Which Jamaica song of the last 50 years captures the essence of the independent Jamaica?There are too many songs to pick from such as Bob Marley’s “One Love” or “RedemptionSong”, Eric Donaldson’s “Land of My Birth”, Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross”, DennisBrown’s “No Man’s an Island”
Even from the above mentioned song it would be hard for me to pick one but if pushed I 1would go for “Many Rivers to Cross”.
A New National Anthem?
I would go as far to say any of these songs could easily our current national anthem. Controversial point I know but I think songs like “Redemption Song “more capture the progress and challenges that Jamaicans have faced and overcome in its pursuance of excellence and self-worth since August 1962.
The current National Anthem by Hugh Sherlock was understandable written prior to Jamaica’s independence. It was also composed in a format that does not reflect any of the styles of music that Jamaica has produced. I feel that a new anthem could be considered for discussion. A song to carry us through the next 50 years.
A song powerful but equally uplifting. For me I would be happy with “Redemption Song”, “Many River to Cross” or “Land of my Birth.” If not as the National Anthem but a song that embodies Jamaica’s conscience as to where we are going.