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Music and dance have always been integral elements of a people’s culture; in Jamaica this is no different. Jamaica’s musical and dance forms are rich, powerful and vibrant and reflect both the high and low points in the society. They are aspects of Jamaican life which represent the general sentiments of the working class and generate feelings of joy and national pride.
In fact, Jamaica has gained much of its earlier international acclaim through the popularity of musicians such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Byron Lee and Willard White and iconic dancers like Rex Nettleford, L’Antoinette Stines, Tony Wilson and Ivy Baxter to name a few.
Jamaica’s musical and dance heritage has gone through various stages of transformation over a relatively short period. Evolving from the deeply Afrocentric Kumina and Revival through Mento and Ska, Jamaican music and dance has always had its own distinctive sound and rhythm.
With heavy influences from jazz, rhythm and blues and the Rastafari movement, Reggae and Dancehall music have become internationally known as musical expressions indigenous to this small island in the Caribbean.
In addition to the information on Jamaica’s musical and dance heritage provided in this article, the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) also has for sale a few publications which have been designed to provide more comprehensive information on Jamaica’s musical and dance history.
One such publication entitled ‘Rhythms: Jamaica’s Heritage in Music and Dance’ celebrates the nation’s rich cultural heritage with a detailed account of the evolution of Jamaica’s music and dance throughout the years while the activity book “Wheel An’ Tun: An Introduction to Traditional Jamaican Dances” introduces children aged six to twelve years to the origins and features of ten traditional dances.