I am a big music fan, and while I love (and listen to a lot of) reggae and dancehall, my favorite genre of music over the last twenty years has been without a doubt jazz. The Independent newspaper out of England this week printed an interview with one of my favorite jazz musicians and a great artist OJD (of Jamaican descent) Courtney Pine. The entire interview can be read here.
In reading this however, I started musing on how our people have transcended the humble beginnings we all came from and stamped our heritage on the world stage. I also ruminated on the different areas of music where Jamaicans have individually made a name for themselves. Courtney Pine is widely considered the greatest jazz artist in the UK, and his album ‘MODERN DAY JAZZ STORIES’ received worldwide critical acclaim and remains one of my all time favorites.
So my question now is this: Leaving the indigenous forms of Jamaican music out of the equation, who is the most noteworthy artist of Jamaican descent in other musical genres?
The number of people who could be considered is tremendous; the aforementioned Courtney Pine, the man considered the Godfather of hip hop DJ Kool Herc, Gil Scott Heron, Leo Williams (Big Audio Dynamite), Dizzy Reece, Heavy D, Grace Jones, Carmen McCrae, Goldie…that’s a lot of talent being exported out of our little island in the sun.
Feel free to suggest who you think i’m overlooking.
There’s always a lot of talk, oftentimes a lot of negative talk, about Jamaica and Jamaicans. We tend to collectively bring a lot of this on ourselves for the most part, but consider this: no other country of our size (specifically referring to geographical size and population) has made an imprint on the world comparable to what Jamaica has. Our people have impacted the world in the arts, politics and sports and continue to do so. It probably has something to do with our spirit, or to paraphrase the recently bailed out Buju Banton “We nuh come fi bow, we come fi conquer.” Yes indeed.