Bob Marley is one of the most popular reggae singers and is credited with exposing the music to mainstream audiences outside of Jamaica. Photo: Reggaeville.
One of the earliest documented reggae songs is the 1968 song “Do The Reggae” by Toots and the Maytals. Reggae’s crossover into the mainstream Is credited to Jamaicans who emigrated to the United States and Britain after World War II.
Bob Marley and The Wailers, who would be known internationally as the pioneers of reggae, released their first single “Simmer Down” in 1964 and continued to be active with a changing lineup of artists well into the early 1980s.
Bob Marley became a solo artist, releasing songs such as “Buffalo Soldier”, “No Woman No Cry” and “Stir it Up” and toured Europe, the United States and Africa.
The lyrical content of reggae music “speaks of all the beautiful and negative things that existed in people’s lives that they wanted to express”, said Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Culture.
In a statement from UNESCOreggae was added to the list because of its “contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity” and its characteristics “both cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual”.
The addition to the Intangible Heritage List is largely symbolic, but according to Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia Grange, the action gives reggae music a “stamp of approval”. According to New York Times, the country will take initiatives to further promote the genre, such as “reggae-focused radio stations, as well as public exhibitions in museums and Reggae Month, which will take place in February, Bob Marley’s birth month “. According to UNESCOin Jamaica, “Students learn to play [reggae] in schools from early childhood to tertiary level, and reggae festivals and concerts such as Reggae Sumfest and Reggae Salute provide annual outings, as well as an understudy and transmission opportunity for upcoming artists, musicians and other practitioners .
The widespread influence of reggae music on popular culture can be seen with its later subgenres. One of these subgenres is dancehall, which was popularized by artists such as Sean Paul. Another popular subgenre is reggaeton, a mix of music originating in Puerto Rico that mixes Caribbean rhythms with Spanish and Latin American hip-hop.
In Jamaica, new reggae artists are continually active in the creative industry. “Every week or every month or every year, I hear about five or six or seven or eight or ten more acts,” said musicologist Garth White.
“As a central component of Jamaica’s creative industries, which contribute 4.8% of GDP, music is one of the country’s most valuable assets…The economic, social, cultural and environmental value of Jamaican music has significantly boosted the value of the Jamaican brand and continues to add resonance to its brand internationally,” said Andrea Davisthe organizer of the International Reggae Day.