Reggae making a revival in Jamaica, recalling golden era of '70s

Sun Aug 24, 2014 12:24pm EDT
 
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By Aileen Torres-Bennett

KINGSTON (Reuters) - The main event at fight night in Kingston, a popular boxing showcase, was hours away, but the crowd at the National Stadium's indoor arena, from the young and hip to the elderly, was already pumped.

When reggae artist Tarrus Riley entered the stage, the screams of the full house were deafening, and the fervor persisted throughout his performance.

A musical and social roots movement called "Reggae Revival" is on the rise in Jamaica, where the raunchier dancehall genre has been king for the last two decades. The revival evokes music from reggae’s golden era of the 1970s, dominated by the late, laid-back legend, Bob Marley, who put reggae on the global map with his catchy tunes and spiritual and socially conscious lyrics.

"Reggae is bouncing back," said Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records who introduced the group Bob Marley and the Wailers to the world. "It got lost somewhat in a negative and violent direction (but) I think it's finding itself again," he added.

The revival of traditional "roots reggae" also stands as "a peaceful revolution in a nation that is often typecasted as violent," said Dutty Bookman, a Jamaican writer who has been documenting the movement which he says goes beyond music, likening it to the Arab Spring.

"Love, unity, positivity, truth-seeking, these things form the basis of the movement," he said.

Jamaica is the birthplace of reggae, which became an international phenomenon thanks to Marley who died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.

"Reggae is the heartbeat of Jamaica," said Ziggy Marley, one of Bob Marley's reggae-playing sons, currently on tour for his “Fly Rasta” album.   Continued...

 
Julian Marley, son of the late reggae icon Bob Marley, performs at a concert celebrating his father's 69th birthday at the National Stadium in Kingston, February 7, 2014. REUTERS/Gilbert Bellamy