Jamaica’s Octoberfest adds Tosh Festival & Awards to Reggae calendar

Jamaica’s Octoberfest adds Tosh Festival & Awards to Reggae calendar
Jamaican musician Peter Tosh, a founding member of the Wailers, is interviewd in the office of the record company he is forming in Los Angeles, Ca., Feb. 1979.
Associated Press

Each year, Germans — particularly those in Munich — anticipate this month with the kind of fervor that exudes Oktoberfest, the world’s biggest fair.

For the first time this year and perhaps every other in the future, Jamaicans will also look forward to October as a festive time to honor tradition, culture and a Rastafarian preacher named Peter McIntosh.

At least from Oct. 19 to Oct. 22, a celebration of the life of a singer / musician internationally acclaimed — as Peter Tosh — will honor his 73rd birthday anniversary with concert performances, tributes, multimedia presentations, a gala family reunion and the very first Peter Tosh Awards ceremony.

According to organizers, the latest of all tribute awards recognize “individuals who have contributed in a major way to furthering the goals of Peter’s activism during his life and career.”

During the ceremony, three presentations will bestow honors on deserving recipients whose contributions have advanced the ideals and lifelong commitment Tosh dedicated to achieve equal rights, legalize cannabis and recognize achievement in the arts.

Named for three of his album titles, The Peter Tosh Equal Rights Award will honor an individual whose efforts advance the cause of equal rights for all. The Peter Tosh Steppin’ Razor Award will recognize influential contributors to the arts and entertainment. And the Legalize It Award will distinguish the recipients “as leaders in advancing Peter’s efforts to legalize cannabis and encourage cannabis research throughout the world.”

The weekend’s festivity coincides with Tosh’s Oct. 19 birthday and launches a belated tribute to the legendary singer, musician and activist who died on Sept. 11, 1987.

“The Peter Tosh Music Festival brings together new and old fans from around the world to celebrate and learn about this amazing legacy,” Niambe McIntosh, the singer’s daughter said.

On a bill featuring a reunion of musicians that backed Tosh on tours throughout the globe as Word, Sound and Power, some of the best names in reggae represent Freddie McGregor, Luciano, Marcia Griffith, Andrew Tosh, Nadine Sutherland, Garnet Silk Jr., and Zak Starkey, the son of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr.

All committed to bolstering the legacy of the musician who indelibly imprinted his unique contribution to the music industry, they are the highlight of the second annual Peter Tosh Festival, first initiated last year at the Peter Tosh Museum in Kingston.

The institution was established to recognize Tosh’s singular contributions to the development of reggae music worldwide and his achievements as an activist.

“There’s no other individual like Peter Tosh,” his daughter added.

Administrator of an estate named for her father, McIntosh has collaborated with Kingsley Cooper, co-founder of the landmark repository named for one of the trinity that yielded a global phenomena known as Bob Marley & Wailers.

Marley, Tosh and Bunny Wailer Livingston were the original Kingston trio to blaze an unprecedented music trail that penetrated international borders and in the process claimed the first Third World Superstar, the king of reggae while delivering instant messages about freedom, liberation, and equal rights and justice.

Tosh emerged the explosive spokesperson, activist and forerunner in the movement to legalize cannabis.

A devout advocate of the Rastafarian edict, he went solo in 1974 and two years later released his first solo album, “Legalize It.” Tosh worked tirelessly to promote the legalization of marijuana, equal rights, and to expand Jamaica’s cultural and musical influence.

Known as the Mystic Man, the Stepping Razor, the Bush Doctor and a myriad of other distinguishing monikers, “he was no stranger to oppression in his homeland and knew the fight for legalization and equal rights.”

He was arrested numerous times for publicly smoking the banned weed but his music served as a catalyst for a generation to fight for what they believed in and never give up.

Tosh had his own unique messages, he advocated that the oppressed “Get Up, Stand Up!” and remain stalwart in seeking change of archaic colonial rules.

“His struggles for equal rights and justice and the legalization of marijuana, have had an impact around the globe, “Kingsley Cooper, co-founder of the Peter Tosh Museum said.

“I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to play a role in spearheading these developments and I am humbled to be a part of it all.”

“As we celebrate Peter’s birthday once again, this time with the Peter Tosh Music Festival hosted by the Peter Tosh Museum, it’s undoubtedly a good time to reflect on the wonderful gift that Peter’s life, career and legacy has been to the world,” Cooper added.

Other confirmed artists include Tosh’s granddaughter Jahzarah Tosh, Ikaya, Dre Tosh and Live Wyya.

Jamaica’s Octoberfest will provide a forum for praise, honor, and begin a tradition that annually will celebrate the home-grown reggae music the rest of the world has embraced throughout each month of the year.

“No other genre of music has had such a positive global impact other than reggae,” McIntosh added.

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