JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The production promises to highlight the history and the strength of the Jamaican people
  • The Grand Gala celebrations will summarize Jamaica 50 celebrations
  • Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Johnny Clarke, Junior Reid, Ken Boothe, Queen Ifrica to perform

Come August 6, Jamaicans will be celebrating in their black, green and gold the Independence story and history of our small but creative and vibrant country.

One of the premier events for the Independence celebrations, the Grand Gala at the National Stadium, the organisers say, will portray to the country and the world, the pride and story of our ‘Out of Many, One People’ nation. The production promises to highlight not only the history, but importantly, the strength of the Jamaican people.

Principal Musical Director for the Grand Gala, Ibo Cooper says this 51st year of Independence presents a great opportunity for Jamaicans to re-think the way we do things as a country and the conversations we must have and share as a people. He says in this respect, the Grand Gala celebrations will summarize Jamaica 50 celebrations as well as chart the way forward for the beginning of the next fifty years, in the form of a musical. This musical, he notes, will intricately weave our Independence story and pay homage to the traditions, religions, music and dance that have all contributed to the Jamaican culture.

“Rather than a stage show concept, it will be a variety show that presents itself as a musical. So you will have stage show aspects, you will have aspects of our cultural heritage put in the form of dance, in spoken word, in song, but it will all flow as one story threaded by iconic images like Miss Lou and (folk legends like) Anancy but utilizing the present technology of the digital world, screen animations and so on,” he explains.

In addition to sending to Jamaicans a message that they should respect what has gone before and those who have helped to advance the nation this far in its journey, the creative concept of the Grand Gala also seeks to position young people as the elders, icons and heroes of the future.

The Principal Musical Director says patrons can look forward to authentic representations of the Jamaican culture. Among the artistes and bands to perform on the show will be Damian “Junior Gong” Marley, Johnny Clarke, Junior Reid, Ken Boothe, Queen Ifrica, Judy Mowatt, Fab Five, Blue Print, Raging Fire, General Trees, Nomads,  and Cecile and others.

Mr. Cooper notes that this year’s celebrations will also recognize a number of young musical talents.  A veteran within the music and creative industries, the Grand Gala Principal Musical Director says persons should not underestimate the potential of events of this nature to create a creative, cultural and entertainment outlet for people to celebrate while teaching valuable lessons about who Jamaicans are, and the direction in which we should go as a people.

The Principal Musical Director references a quote from literary and political icon Kahlil Gibran: “When you go to the market place, buy from the flute players and dancers also because what they bring, though fashioned on dreams, is food and raiment for the soul.”

Reminiscing on his childhood memories of Independence celebrations in 1962, Ibo Cooper discloses that as a boy he was excited to be a part of the Independence celebrations. “It was significant to hear a new anthem and to see the last of the Union Jack, to see the new flag and feel ok with our nation of our own. We had these dreams of what we could be,” he recalls.

The Principal Musical Director says he believes the Jamaican society still has the opportunity to inspire a greater sense of patriotism within the youth. He hopes that at the conclusion of this year’s celebrations, our young people will be more willing to carry the baton in the relay for the reconstruction of our culture, heritage, patriotism and nationhood. “It’s their time to run their leg and in a relay; and I hope the message comes across, in a relay there are two sets of people depending on you – the guys who ran hard to give you the baton and the one waiting on the baton,” he asserts.

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