Independence Day Jamaica Jamaica's Music Independence

Jamaica’s Music Independence

Happy Independence Day Jamaica

When Jamaicans got a taste of ska music on the verge of their independence in 1962, they just couldn’t get enough of it. It was a different sound from anything heard before, the first uniquely Jamaican music to be widely recorded.

Radios and record players became popular in Jamaica in the 1950s. Jamaicans became more exposed to American music, and developed a liking for American rhythm and blues. Large sound systems developed to fill the country’s appetite for the latest American music. Record playing equipment, records and crew went in trucks to dance halls over Jamaica. Clement (Sir Coxsone) Dodd and Duke Reid (the Trojan) were the two giant sound system operators of that time. The extreme rivalry between them began in the dancehall, and continued into the studio as they both got involved in the recording business. Joining their ranks as record producers by about 1960, were Leslie Kong and Prince Buster, a singer whose vision for a truly Jamaican music helped push his studio musicians into developing the new sound. 

In the early days of the Jamaica music industry, the main output was American style RnB and boogie. When the style in America began to shift to rock and roll, Jamaica went its own way and produced Ska music.  It used elements drawn from Jamaican mento, revival and rastafarian drumming, in addition to rhythm and blues, boogie and swing. The afterbeat was stressed instead of the downbeat, and this has been a defining feature of popular Jamaican music since that time. 
Many of the early studio musicians were trained instrumentalists, and much of the music was purely instrumental. These musicians were the innovators behind the new music. Bands such as the Skatalites which comprised some of the finest Jamaican studio musicians of that time, including the brilliant trombonist Don Drummond.

Ska developed in downtown Kingston. It took a while for it to be accepted by the middle and upper classes, but Byron Lee and his band played a great role in promoting this music to the wider society. Eventually the whole country was in a ska frenzy. With the release of Millie Small’s “My Boy Lollipop” in England by producer Chris Blackwell in 1964, ska had an international hit.

Some of the hits in that time are “Wash Wash” by Prince Buster, “Ring of Fire” by the Skatalites, Oh Carolina by Folkes Brothers, Carry Go Bring Come by Justin Hines and the Dominoes, Confucius by Don Drummond, Six and Seven Book of Moses by the Maytals and Hard Man Fi Dead another Prince Buster runaway hit.

In 1963, Coxsone Records produced a song called “Simmer Down” which would become the Wailers first hit in 1964 and featured the voice of a very young Bob Marley. Some people associated ska music with the optimism of independence. Others think that through the horns, the music expressed the cares of the working class. That the frenzied pace of the music provided a way for them to release the pressures of daily living. By the mid 1960’s Jamaica was ready for a slower, more brooding music called rock steady.

Source: Real Jamaica Vacations