Reggae is the Jamaican music that evolved from ska and rock steady, developing into a huge musical and social force. Over the years it has developed and changed, growing into one-drop, and eventually dancehall styles. Roots reggae - the raw, early sound, remains globally popular. Reggae music is Jamaica's largest cultural export, and since its humble beginnings in the ghettos of Kingston, reggae has grown to become a worldwide cultural and musical expression. If you want to hear the heartbeat of the Jamaican people listen to reggae music!  Since the early days and Jamaica, and through to the present day, Reggae has been filled with social commentary and reflections on life in Jamaica.

Reggae music can be heard everywhere in Jamaica; on the radio, TV, commercials, during holidays, at sound-system parties (called “Bashments”) Reggae is played constantly in Jamaica, and is loved by young and old. It’s influence has spread throughout the world, and Jamaicans are very proud of the musical achievements of their country.

A basic familiarity with reggae music will make you a more educated traveler, and will give you some insight into this art form that is so vital to Jamaicans and their culture. Catch a Fire (listed in the course syllabus) is an excellent introduction to reggae music, and the life of reggae’s most famous innovator and national hero of Jamaica, Bob Marley.

Through the work of the Jamaica Field Service Project, talented local Jamaican musicians are able to receive free studio time at our program’s recording studio. The studio built by the program, in Port Antonio, with the assistance of the Rotary of Jamaica, assists in supporting HIV Education in Jamaica.  Students who participate in the Jamaica Field Service Project may assist in recording a variety of artists, both at the studio, and live at the local schools.

Click on the links above to access the three part BBC History of Jamaican Music, as well as sound files and links.

Music of Jamaica