REGGAE MONTH // Ready for a Canadian Reggae Renaissance

February is Reggae Month, established in 2008 by Jamaica's Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, and the Jamaican Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA). It has been a joy to receive this extra dedicated month of teachings, events, and specialized celebrations for reggae music that can be enjoyed globally. It's another opportunity to showcase the brilliance of Jamaican music, culture, and to witness the ways in which these elements can contribute to Jamaica's international impact and local development.

A nice precursor to the month was the announcement of the artist nominees for Canada's 2023 Reggae Recording of the Year Juno Award: Ammoye, Celena, Exco Levi, Kairo McLean and Kirk Diamond, and also Kairo McLean and Finn on January 31. Take a look at this article for the overview (Juno nominee image via Reggae North).

We're at an era in reggae music where it's just as easy to consume live music online as it is out in a venue. Nonetheless, the scope of reggae's impact and the innovations in the genre have become more exciting and accessible as a result of the yearly advances in music technology.

Our reggae music and musicians are essential; there's an important symbiotic cultural journey that the audience and entertainers are on...together.

I truly think it's time for a Canadian reggae music renaissance. A surge. I'd like to see our musicians, and DJs, and promoters thrive and excel on a newly invigorated international level. I want to experience a significant Canadian reggae era, just like we did with hip hop.

I took a look at the Canadian reggae industry as a system in January of 2020. Last year for Reggae Month I highlighted the numerous reggae selectors in Canada who were sharing their music internationally through the Twitch platform, uplifting music lovers around the world during the "indoor" segments of the pandemic in particular.

There are dozens of reggae music performers, promoters, and practitioners that are sustaining and elevating the culture through musical activities online, through events, and through constant innovation. We can't take this for granted, or fail to nurture and support these folks every step of the way. As a collective.

How can the industry elevate, beyond its current position? Here are a few thoughts of action that don't require finances, huge sponsorship, or any formal process:

Support, support, support. Even if no one knows you're doing it. Even if you don't get anything in return. Do it for free. Do it for your friends, and for the strangers as well. For everyone who is on the journey of building Canada's reggae community and them because they're headed in the same direction. Support them when they fall, and stick with them when they rise. Rather than viewing others as competition, embrace them as community partners on a bigger--international--journey.

Stream, download, listen to, and share the music of Canadian reggae music artists/DJs. (Even if some of them don't yet have the elite sound quality or musicianship of reggae's predecessors or peers). Stick with them and listen through the process as they develop, and grow, and perfect their craft. Lift them up as they publish and produce, and watch what the support and encouragement does to the overall product. And when they make it or level up...continue to support.

Utilize Canadian reggae media and perspectives: Toronto Reggae. Reggae North. Rebel Vibez. CanJamMusik. Canadian Reggae World. There are so many communicators and practitioners working "behind the scenes" in the industry who are dedicated to sharing the message and letting others know about Canada's talent. Read what they write. Recommend their pages to others. Like, share, and subscribe. Boost up the outlets that are framing the industry.

Each one, teach one. Show the youth the way. They're different, but they are the future and the sustainability of the industry relies on their ability to understand the past, appreciate the present, and care enough to bring it forth into the future. Increase their awareness as they begin their own journeys.

Respect those who came before us, and give credit to those who paved the way. Show them love! Share their work. Keep their names and contributions in conversation. Encourage them to continue and cultivate their messages and legacies along with your own. Build on the blueprint and look at the industry as a continuum that can only exist with a positive transfer of ideas and thought from the past to the present.

There are enough like-minded folks in our country that love and respect reggae music that the vision should be simple, and direct. Support. Endorse. Encourage. Believe. The talent is already here.

Happy Reggae Month!

Written by SM Robinson for "Kya Publishing's @JamaicanCanadianZone and the "Reflection and Reason" blog.


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