What do you know about the Black protest music that inspired Reggae Month?

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

In tandem with Black History Month, February also marks Reggae Month, celebrating one of the most popular Black protest musical genres.

As we immerse ourselves in the rich tapestry of February, two significant and harmonious celebrations unfold side-by-side — Black History Month and Reggae Month. Beyond the well-deserved spotlight on African-American contributions, February resonates with the rhythms of reggae, creating an interwoven narrative of cultural expression and social consciousness. This seamless fusion of celebrations provides a poignant backdrop for delving into the intricate connections between the two, exploring the profound impact of reggae music while honoring the enduring legacy of Black history.

Reggae, widely recognized as one of a few revolutionary Black protest musical genres, stands firm in its core tenets of unity, peace, and love. Founded in 2008 through a collaborative effort between the Jamaican government and the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Reggae Month took root in February to coincide with the birthday of legendary reggae luminary Bob Marley. Born Feb. 6, 1945, Marley is widely revered for his monumental contributions to music and his enduring legacy as a prominent Black activist.

In honor of Reggae Month, we embark on a journey through five noteworthy events that not only celebrate the genre’s profound impact on the global music scene but also pay homage to the enduring legacy of Black history. From iconic performances to insightful discussions, these annual events serve as a testament to the power of music in narrating stories of strength, unity, and the unwavering pursuit of justice during Reggae Month.

Island Music Conference

Founded by the esteemed Dr. Orville “Shaggy” Burrell, a globally recognized reggae luminary, in collaboration with Judith Bodley and Sharon Burke, the Island Music Conference (IMC) emerges as an annual four-day rendezvous for music professionals. Brimming with insightful panels, engaging workshops, and captivating performances by key contributors to the Caribbean music scene, IMC serves as a vibrant melting pot. Drawing top-tier global music executives, artists, producers, publicists, journalists, and more, the conference unfolds in Kingston, Jamaica, the epicenter of reggae music. IMC is dedicated to catalyzing transformative experiences for individuals in the music and entertainment industries, offering the latest advice and insights through dynamic panels, workshops, and invaluable networking opportunities. Taking place from Feb. 21 to 25, the conference allows participants to pre-register for the entire event or choose day-specific attendance.

Lost In Time Festival

For an immersive musical experience that truly embodies the soul of reggae during Reggae Month, look no further than the Lost In Time Festival. Taking place at Hope Gardens in Kingston, Jamaica, on Feb. 24, this rhythmic celebration promises an entire day filled with music, artisanal crafts, delectable food, and an array of sound stages, dancefloors, and chill spots for reggae enthusiasts to come together. Organized by the reggae collective In.Digg.Nation, led by the talented reggae artist Protoje, 2024 marks the festival’s second active year. In addition to Protoje, this year’s lineup features prominent reggae artists such as Lila Ike, Jesse Royal, Romain Virgo, Jah9, and more, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all attendees.

“Bob Marley: One Love” film release

If you haven’t rushed to your local theater yet, now’s the moment to grab your popcorn and immerse yourself in the captivating “Bob Marley: One Love” biopic! Released on Valentine’s Day, this heartfelt cinematic experience has been long-awaited, offering an intimate glimpse into the life of the iconic Bob Marley.

Born as Robert Nesta Marley, the musician transcends the realms of reggae, leaving an indelible mark on the broader music landscape and Black activism. His songs resonated with themes of unity, resistance, Rastafari beliefs, advocacy for African unity, global harmony, and a timeless message of love. Even today, Bob Marley’s music, image, and name reverberate worldwide.

Celebrating its opening week, “Bob Marley: One Love” has swiftly claimed the top position as the No. 1 movie in America. To honor Reggae Month and deepen your understanding of this influential genre, culture, and the legend himself, don’t miss the chance to catch it at a theater near you.

Trinidad & Tobago and Dominica carnivals

Though born in Jamaica, reggae music finds a home throughout the Caribbean, thanks to shared diasporic connections and cultural similarities. During Reggae Month, both Trinidad & Tobago and Dominica host renowned carnivals, and it’s no mere coincidence. Carnival, recognized as a pre-Lenten masquerade celebration, symbolizes culture, resilience, liberation, and freedom. In the vibrant carnival atmosphere, reggae and its sister genres, soca and calypso music, take center stage with lively beats that foster unity and feature uplifting, positive lyrics, creating an ambiance of collective joy and exuberance. Notably, in both Dominica and Trinidad & Tobago, where sizable to majority Black populations contribute significantly, carnival culture embodies the spirit of resilience and freedom. This year, the major carnival parades in Trinidad & Tobago and Dominica unfolded on Feb. 12 and 13, respectively, with international participants already planning their travel for 2025.

JaRIA Honour Awards

The Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), the driving force behind the national observance of Reggae Month, naturally takes the lead in orchestrating a series of events to commemorate the month. Among the highlights of this monthlong musical celebration is the highly anticipated JaRIA Honour Awards — an annual gala hosted by the association recognizing exceptional contributions within the Jamaican music industry. Set to unfold on Feb. 25, the crème de la crème of reggae culture is promised to gather at the gala. Amidst the accolades, two special awards open for public voting allow the winners to claim the coveted title of the people’s choice. If you’re eager to participate in this democratic decision-making process, head to the JaRIA Honour Awards website to cast your vote and catch the livestream on YouTube.

Noel Cymone Walker theGrio.com
Noel Cymone Walker theGrio.com

Noel Cymone Walker is an NYC-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Recording Academy/The Grammys, The Fader, Billboard, Okayplayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.

Never miss a beat: Get our daily stories straight to your inbox with theGrio’s newsletter

The post What do you know about the Black protest music that inspired Reggae Month? appeared first on TheGrio.