Reggae is more appreciated abroad than in Jamaica.

According to Andrea Davis the founder of International Reggae Day, despite the strides made in the music over the years, “reggae is still not being given a priority in terms of investment and promotion here”. She further noted that far more enthusiasm exists outside of Jamaica.

“There is an under-appreciation of the value of reggae and what it means and can mean to our economy based on the impact it continues to have in the marketplace. This is also an opportunity for the local music industry to pull together, as Jamaica is the culturally authentic home to reggae,” said Davis.

She explained that this is the thinking behind the conference being staged at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew as part of Reggae Day celebrations. According to Davis, the conference will focus on how Jamaica can claim a larger slice of the international reggae market. As well as look at the sound system fraternity and the contribution it has made to the development of Jamaican music and culture.

“How do we secure a share of what’s out there, that’s what we will be focusing on. As the home of reggae, when you look out there are so many versions of ourselves. For example, right now there are more sound systems outside of Jamaica. There are secure brand deals and making inroads into the market which Jamaicans are not doing or not in a position to see. We need to become more proactive in maintaining our competitive advantage or we won’t being in that position for long,” said Davis.

This year, IRD will continue its celebrations in cities and on radio stations. Some of the cities officially on board are New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Honolulu, London and Mumbai, India.

Entities in these areas will observe the day with concerts, parties, dances, pop-up shop exhibits and film screenings.

The celebrations in Jamaica will be anchored at the Jamaica Pegasus. The annual conference, mural installation and IRD digital art exhibit featuring works from the International Reggae Poster Contest, will be on show.

The event will culminate with a live concert at the Countryside Club in Half-Way-Tree.

Artistes already confirmed as IRD Ambassadors include Sly & Robbie, Toots & the Maytals, Inner Circle, Third World, Steel Pulse, Freddie McGregor, Marcia Griffiths, Luciano, Tarrus Riley, Protoje, I-Wayne, Kymani Marley, Cherine Anderson, Junior Kelly, Jah9, Maxi Priest, Alborosie and Indian artistes, Delhi Sultante and Begum X.

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  1. So Ms. Davis say “strides” have been made in reggae “over the years”. This is a viewpoint that is arguable at best. The whole reason for the “New Roots Movement” or “Reggae Revival” as a lever for reggae is because of the apparent stagnation of quality reggae. The integrity of Rastafari culture has been marginalized constantly as the island – and indeed the entire world of popular music – slipped into more mediocre slack vibes in terms of it’s lyric content and lack of the advancement of musical sophistication (post mid 1980s). Without getting too long-winded here, I think it is important to mention something as a non-jamaican music lover looking into the box that is the current Jamaican music scene. It is an element which is not discussed and something I see as a sort of catch 22 for Jamaican reggae these days and yet it seems to escape the understanding of those inside the box

    So an answer I would suggest here lies in the following question: What are the sound execution elements that Bob Marley, Burning Spear, Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru, and EVERY other artist from that era possessed that virtually disappeared from reggae with later artists such as Capelton and Sizzla?

    For one thing it’s the mixes; the craft not being concerned as much with signature sound when it comes to the way a song or album or studio production could be distinguished and also subtle stylistic changes in the instrumentation of the music with the modern approach being more strait forward and homogenous with no particular engineers or players standing out like before with man like King Tubby, Lee Perry, Sly and Robbie, or Roots Radics.

    The other sound element to change – and this one is the clincher when talking about popularity and sellability (or the lack thereof) of contemporary Jamaican reggae – the vocal approach (and BTW this diatribe is certainly NOT a counter-complaint, just an observation of a consensus that has come to my attention from voices of the non-caribbean listening audience at large). To sing in thick Patois or not to, this is the point which directly confronts the Jamaican Artist who struggles to maintain relevancy in a now full-grown multinational field of representation. To put it in the form of an answer to the question I posed about BM and B Spear, man like that always did their thing with “enough” english that could be sung along with by nations who were hungry for reggae’s message. I have to repeat that: english – that could be sung along with by the nations. (and this is not just me talking but a consensus that I have heard repeated over and over again by the traditionally largest purchasers of reggae music: white people. Even the children of the white people who were attending reggae concerts in the 1970s and early 80s) That less patios-ish approach by those artists gave away to this now all-pervasive thick patois singer/sing-jay approach. It is delivering Jamaican music proudly as a Jamaican without the acknowledgement that the world at large would be strained to be able to translate the patois, much less sing along with it. Commendable as it is to sacrifice sales for principle and identity, it is then ignorant to turn around and complain about the market without addressing this elephant in the room for which the artist has complete control. Is this really a mystery? Speaking for the listening audience accountability, this is what humans do. They do what they can and usually not much more. Don’t ask them to work for it by having to learn to decifer an unfamiliar articulation of words that is not common to them. By and large – and that is what we are talking about here, the masses – they won’t do it.

    few others have maintained a more english-sounding approach but for the most part, many artists go the patois route and, for better or worse, it has repelled many reggae enthusiasts who prefer the older roots to contemporarary artists.

    This then begs a self introspection from the current movers and shakers of reggae IMO.

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