INTERNATIONAL REGGAE DAY
Every year on July 1st, International Reggae Day celebrates reggae culture and its influence on Jamaican music.
Reggae developed in the 1960s and evolved into a popular style of music. With its roots in Jamaica, Reggae music is an integral part of the Jamaican culture. It is a mix of rhythm & blues, calypso, African, and Latin American music.
A heavy four-beat rhythm characterizes reggae music. These beats are carried out by drums, congas, bass guitars, and electric guitars. Another popular instrument in reggae music is the scraper. A scraper is a corrugated stick that the musician rubs with a plain stick.
By the 1970s, reggae music became known around the world. The style of music was especially popular in the United States, Great Britain, and Africa. Many people say that reggae music serves as a voice for the oppressed.
Some of the greatest reggae songs of all time include:
- “No Woman, No Cry” by Bob Marley and the Wailers
- “Funky Kingston” by Toots & the Maytals
- “Montego Bay” by Freddie Notes & the Rudies
- “Many Rivers to Cross” by Jimmy Cliff
- “The Tide is High” by the Paragons
- “Red Red Wine” by UB40
- “I Shot the Sherriff” by Bob Marley and the Wailers
- “Revolution” by Dennis Brown
- “Love is My Religion” by Ziggy Marley
- “Hold Me Tight” by Johnny Nash
Bob Marley and the Wailers are considered the most iconic reggae artists ever and are credited for bringing reggae music to the international stage.
HOW TO OBSERVE #InternationalReggaeDay
Every year on the first of July, Kinston, Jamaica, hosts the International Reggae Festival. Around the world, cities also hold Reggae concerts in celebration of the day. Some of these cities include The Bahamas, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Columbia.
Don’t despair if no reggae concerts are in your area on this day, you can still participate. Listen to reggae music. Search for reggae videos online. Watch a documentary, such as Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music or Roots, Reggae, Rebellion. Share your favorite reggae song on social media with #InternationalReggaeDay.
INTERNATIONAL REGGAE DAY HISTORY
Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings founded International Reggae Day. Her 1991 visit to Kingston inspired her to start the annual event. During Davis’ visit, she heard a speech made by the South African leader, Winnie Mandela. He discussed the impact reggae music had as people in South Africa fought for equal rights during Apartheid. The first International Reggae Day was held on July 1st, 1994.