Jamaican musicologist Dermott Hussey says that a study of the global penetration of Jamaica’s Reggae music into communities which have adopted it, could reveal that its internationalization was the country’s finest hour.
Addressing a Reggae Symposium and Art Exhibition at the Embassy of Jamaica in Washington DC on Monday (February 23), Mr. Hussey noted that Reggae enjoys international fame, like blues, funk, rock and jazz.
He said that advertisers were creating reggae jingles to promote a variety of products while, increasingly, film soundtracks feature the music, and Jamaican innovations, such as “dub” and “versions”, have been copied globally and expanded.
The music and persona of Bob Marley were key elements of Brand Jamaica, which continues to have a powerful resonance and persuasive effect on the world’s music landscape, he said.
Tracing the history of Jamaican music, Mr. Hussey said Jamaica gave the world a new rhythm with melodic bass lines closest to a heartbeat.
Artist, Richard Blackford (right), assisted by Jamaica’s Ambassador to the United States, Anthony Johnson, places a portrait of Jamaica’s triple Olympic gold medalist, Usain Bolt, on the wall of the conference room, at the Embassy, in Washington, D.C. Mr. Blackford, who displayed some of his latest works at a symposium and art exhibition on Reggae, donated the portrait to the Embassy.
Turning to Marley’s contribution, he noted that 28 years after his passing, his persona, his music, and message were as alive, globally, as when he lived.
He also paid tribute to the pioneers of Reggae. He told the standing room only audience that the concept of celebrating Reggae Month was laudable and one, which should be embraced internationally.
In his remarks, Jamaica’s Ambassador to Washington, His Excellency Anthony Johnson, said that the idea of Reggae Month was to have people reflect on the contribution of this important industry to Jamaica and how it can be exploited and improved for the benefit of the people.
Jamaican artist Richard Blackford, whose artwork formed part of the exhibition, presented a portrait of Jamaica’s world famous Olympian, Usain Bolt, to the Embassy to hang in its conference room.
Time Magazine’s award winning photographer Davis Burnett showcased some of his unique photographs of Marley, and also did a signing of his book, “Soul Rebel: An Intimate Portrait”, which was released in the U.S. capital, Washington DC.
Among those in attendance were: The Ambassador of St. Vincent and the Grenadines H.E. Lacelia Prince; former Jamaican Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Richard Bernal; and the President of the Jamaican Nationals Association, Dr. Jackie Payne.