Even those people who know very little else about Reggae, its music, and its influences, will know the name Bob Marley. He’s the 1980’s Reggae musician who brought his amazing works to the world and shared the idea that three little birds will tell a person that “every little thing is gonna be alright!”
Bob Marley had such a distinctive sound that it reached out and touched almost every corner of the world in his day. Of course, he wasn’t the only Reggae artist by a long shot. But certainly, he became one of the most popular and well-known in this musical style that has deep spiritual roots and an august history in Ska and rocksteady music.
International Reggae Day celebrates this Jamaican style of music and brings it to those unfortunate people in the world who may have yet to experience it.
This is a time to listen up and get into the groove of freedom that Reggae is all about!
History of International Reggae Day
International Reggae Day is an annual event held in Kingston, Jamaica, and is dedicated to celebrating this style of music that entered into the world in a sleepy little island country in the Caribbean. It took some time, but Reggae eventually exploded to touch every corner of the world with its unusual and attractive, relaxed style.
Originally born out of Ska and rocksteady genres of music in the 1960s, Reggae quickly gained distinction with its unpolished sound and strong dependence on rhythm. It took a few years as a grassroots movement before it began expanding far beyond its little originating island. It became particularly popular in English-speaking nations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
Reggae has often been considered a style of music that is perceived as the voice of the oppressed people, particularly as a rejection of the “white-man culture”. Some of the specific guitar effects (called “skengay”) that developed out of Ska music are meant to sound like ricocheting guns, in a nod to the sounds of the ghetto streets in Kingston.
Reggae became a powerful style of music with deep roots by the time Bob Marley joined the scene, and its influence has never really stopped growing in the more than half-century since. The style of reggae has definitely made its mark and spread wide, with tons of different styles and variations popping up.
One of these variations includes a type of poetry called Dub Poetry, which is West Indian Poetry that is then synced up with amazing reggae beats to create a musical poetry style all its own.
International Reggae Day is celebrated in Kingston, Jamaica, with thousands of fans and musicians coming from all over the world gathering there to celebrate the amazing history of reggae history.
Get ready to celebrate Reggae Day!
How to Celebrate International Reggae Day
Getting into the celebration of Reggae Day should be relaxing and enjoyable, keeping with the laid-back vibe of the music! Try these ideas:
Listen to Some Reggae Music
What would Reggae Day be without Reggae Music? Some of the most popular reggae artists with songs that can be added to a playlist for this day might include:
- Bob Marley. Along with the band, the Wailers, Bob Marley has often been hailed as one of the pioneers of the reggae movement, and together they released 11 albums in their active years from 1973 to 1981.
- Jimmy Cliff. Best known in mainstream circles for “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, Cliff was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010. He has released at least 30 albums.
- Peter Tosh. One of the original members of The Wailers, Tosh later became a solo artist and a promoter of the religious movement, Rastafari. He had at least 14 reggae albums to his name before his tragic death in 1987.
Head to Kingston, Jamaica
There are certainly some great ways to celebrate International Reggae Day, not the least of which is taking a trip down to Kingston to celebrate with some of the best music to be heard the world round.
For those who might have a hard time actually getting down to the area itself, a fun idea would be to dress up in your best Rasta colors and fill the day with amazing Reggae beats.
Watch a Reggae Inspired Film
Get into the culture and music of reggae by watching films that offer insight into the world as it developed.
- The Harder They Come, 1972. This 1972 film made in Jamaica features a poor man (reggae singer Jimmy Cliff) in search of work who is a talented musician but eventually becomes a drug runner and never gets the fame he deserves for his music. This is considered to be one of the most important films to come out of the Caribbean and its soundtrack has been well-loved for almost 50 years.
- Cool Runnings, 1993. A more lighthearted look at the people of Jamaica, this delightful comedy film is based on the true story of the first Jamaican Bobsled team who competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. A cover of “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff (from The Harder They Come) became popular from this soundtrack.
- Countryman, 1982. Dedicated to Bob Marley, this film uses a number of his songs on its soundtrack. The story follows two Americans who crash-land their airplane in Jamaica and are aided by a local Rastafarian fisherman who helps them navigate natural dangers as well as a strange political climate.
Cook Caribbean Food
To add a culinary twist to International Reggae Day, cook up some Caribbean recipes and enjoy the flavor and sound of the Reggae culture. Goat meat is incredibly popular down there!