International Reggae Day 2008

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By: Lioness Danyell
Photography By: Milton Raynor

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This year, the celebration of International Reggae Day, commenced back in 1994 by one-woman power house, Andrea Davis and her Jamaica Arts Holdings organisation, came to a crescendo at the Undercroft of the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, with a panel discussion themed 'Reggae Music in 2008'.

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Commemorating 2008 as the 40th year of Reggae music, a major point of discussion was the landmark songs of the year 1968, which definitively propelled the shift in genre from Rock Steady to Reggae. Among these were famously Nanny Goat by Larry Marshall and Do The Reggae by Toots and the Maytals, as well as, Baby Why by the Cables, Israelites by Desmond Dekker and the Aces and Feel the Rhythm by Clancy Eccles, which was actually recorded in late 1967, but released in 1968, according to panelist Julian 'Jingles' Reynolds.

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Other hot topics were focussed on the current state of the ownership of copyright and intellectual property rights within Reggae music and the need for the creators of the music to demand and retain possession. A discussion spearheaded by lawyer Sandra 'Sajoya' Alcott; payola, the redundancy of radio and the emergence of new technologies, primarily the internet, for music distribution, led by Dennis Howard who is currently writing his doctoral thesis on the need to recognize Reggae as a distinct and independent genre, as are Ska, Rock Steady, Dub and Dancehall. Other presenters were Michael 'Ibo' Cooper, formerly of Inner Circle and Third World, musicologist Herbie Miller and Rocky Gibbs, son of pioneering Jamaican producer, Joe Gibbs.

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Notable persons in attendance at the small gathering included members of the UWI academia: Dr. Clinton Hutton, Dr. Carolyn Cooper, Cecil Gutzmore and Kamau Ron Amen, as well as Frank Gordon, Yvonne and Ishiwawa Hope, Mikey General, Mutabaruka and students from the entertainment and events management programmes at UWI and the Vocational Training and Development Institute.

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The evening ended with a slew of short, but sweet performances from a number of upcoming artistes, as well as one from Hugh Black, who was revered in the 1980's for his major hit Friday Evening, produced by Joe Gibbs.

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