It’s been 20 years since JAH (Jamaica Arts Holding) launched an official date to celebrate reggae music. On the anniversary, a global collective marked July 1 by initiating a multiplicity of events, activities and acknowledgements of Jamaica’s home-grown music. Launched and dedicated in Kingston as International Reggae Day two decades ago, this year’s activities featured tree planting ceremonies, dominant radio airplay of the music, symposia, parties, concerts, club offerings, and a myriad of fashion shows focusing on red, gold and green — colors associated with the genre. In Jamaica, celebrations were allegedly massive. Using reggae to amplify the call for peace, equal rights and climate justice, tree plantings tagged with hashtag iReggaeTree were tweeted from Emancipation Park, Hope Zoo and in the Portmore area of Kingston by Sun City FM. One of Bob Marley’s sons Julian planted a tree in that endeavor.
In the Caribbean, Sandals Resorts joined in the global celebrations with reggae parties in its 24 hotels across seven islands in the Caribbean. Complimenting the IRD 24-hour media festival showcasing Jamaica’s music culture, a series of lifestyle parties in different cities concluded the “Experience Reggae” promotions where fans were encouraged to experience Reggae 360 – Wear-Play-Dance-Feel-Eat-Love-Be Reggae and plant a tree for IRD.
With growing support of social media, this year, participation was particularly heightened with the launch of the iReggaeDay App made available in Google and Amazon Stores. With its application users were able to keep track of all the iReggae Day activities and made it easier for fans to share the day’s experience.
The iReggaeDay eStore also offered a variety of merchandise such as tee-shirts and assorted lifestyle accessories including water bottles, laptop covers and bags.
Since the launch of IRD, specialized music festivals now include — Reggae on the Rocks (Colorado) Reggae On the River (California) Reggae in the Desert (Las Vegas) Reggae In The Park (Florida) Reggae on the Mountain (California) Reggae by the Sea (Spain) Reggae By The Nile (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia) along with the various fetes, Splash, Jams, and other marathon reggae music concerts held throughout the world, the theme “Experience Reggae 360” was put in place to incorporate a poster contest, conferences, tree-plantings, reggae-themed parties, live video streaming, marathon reggae music programming on radio and a multitude of related events.
In New York celebrations were anchored by two of the city’s most popular lifestyle spots. Miss Lily’s Restaurant co-hosted events with IRD media partners BIG Jamaica and LargeUp.com along with Spur Tree Lounge located on the lower east side.
Radio Lily streamed a party that featured special deejays and live performances from Dutch reggae artiste Martei Korley and Japanese melodica player Anna.
In Florida, media partner INationTV joined in the party mix with a special IRD edition of their ‘Level the Vibes’ series representing the South Florida celebrants who streamed live broadcasts from Ginger Bay Café in Hollywood which featured live performances with the Code Red Band, Alana DeCosta and more.
In Hawaii there was also a Reggae Day Picnic in Waikiki at Queen Kapiolani Park.
The ‘IRD Waikiki Picnic in the Park’ celebration produced by the Lawson King Foundation was a family event at the Queen Kapiolani Park Band Stand featuring Hawaiian Reggae artistes with a special appearance from the Royal Hawai’ian Band.
“We are blessed Islands of Hawaii to participate in Jamaica’s global historical experience,” Dion Lawson, the event producer said.
“Here on the Islands of Hawaii our rainbow blessings in the spirit of Aloha will cross over the Pacific Ocean to the other side of the rainbow ‘Island of Jamaica’ aligned with movement of Jah People in the spirit of one love.”
As part of this year’s focus on design, the IRD collaboration with the International Reggae Poster Contest (IRPC) showcased a collection of fine art posters from the contest that was projected in a digital exhibit on the wall of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel. The stunning display of fine art from professional graphic artists from Brazil to the UK became visible to most living in the New Kingston area.
Prior to the digital display on the façade of the prominent Kingston hotel, Peter Hillary, General Manager of the Jamaica Pegasus said:
“We are honored to host International Reggae Day and the digital exhibit and are committed to participate in this celebration and presentation of fine art in Kingston in 2015 and beyond.”
REGGAE ON THE PIER SLATES RANKING DANCEHALL ACTS
Back in the day – the 1990s — reggae featured prominently on a pier-side setting located next to the Intrepid Museum. Steel Pulse, Third World, Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers, Peter Tosh, British super-group UB40 and the hottest acts of the genre often headlined weekly concerts at the popular Manhattan concert venue. Now that fewer artists are booked to major record labels, it seems even fewer are regularly booked to major, Manhattan venues. However on Aug. 29, some of the most esteemed names in reggae will feature on a bill at Pier 97. The new concert site located at Hudson Park, 57th St. on the Westside of Manhattan will feature two-time Grammy winning dancehall king Shabba Ranks, veteran , reggae deejay, Beenie Man, the crowned “dancehall queen of raunch” Lady Saw, TV Voice winner, Tessanne Chin, “Mr. Lover, Lover” Shaggy and Trinidad & Tobago’s Bunji Garlin.
As part of the JBL Live concert series the event is slated to begin at 6 p.m. and will return some of the ranking dancehall acts to midtown.
Catch You On The Inside!