In celebration of 50 years of Jamaican music, lifestyle, and culture, St. John’s University is hosting the New York portion of a 24-hour, online event, International Reggae Day 2020: Unite – Inspire–Uplift.
The July 1 event, held on International Reggae Day, consists of a roundtable discussion and the streaming of previously unreleased footage of a historic concert featuring reggae icon Dennis Brown.
The event will be led by Douglas Green, Adjunct Professor, Marketing and Management, and Cameron Weber, Ph.D., Assistant Adjunct Professor, Economics and Finance. Both men teach at The Lesley H. and William L. Collins College of Professional Studies and The Peter J. Tobin College of Business.
“Reggae music is critically important because it addresses everyday living. The infectious, syncopated rhythm of the music is in sync with the rhythm of the heart,” said Mr. Green.
The Jamaican beat is credited with enlightening a global audience about issues that include human and civil rights, racism, apartheid, politics, war, and health.
“Reggae’s message of do it yourself, promotion of mutual aid, and uplifting people instead of destruction are concepts that many people, no matter where they are, can relate to,” said Dr. Weber, an avid devotee of reggae and punk music.
Mr. Green and Dr. Weber founded the Reggae Sunsplash Preservation Society in 2015 as part of an ongoing project to preserve, digitize, and stream more than 300 professional-quality videotapes of reggae performances that Mr. Green successfully negotiated the rights to. The films, which date from 1978 to 1994, recorded reggae singers performing live during annual Reggae Sunsplash Festivals that are known for drawing huge, global crowds.
Mr. Green was one of the partners who created the first Reggae Sunsplash Music Festival that was held in 1978 in Jamaica, considered the motherland of reggae.
Dr. Weber is hosting the panel discussion, which includes key musical luminaries such as DJ Kool Herc, known as the godfather of hip hop.
The panel discussion is followed by a one-hour screening of Mr. Green’s newly digitized film of a 1992 concert in Jamaica that Dennis Brown, considered the “Crown Prince” of reggae, performed that year. The Brown film is the first result of the ongoing digitization project the adjunct professors are conducting in collaboration with the University’s Instructional Television, Film and Radio Center and the Division of Library and Information Science.
International Reggae Day marks the passing of Mr. Brown and was founded by Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings. She was inspired by a speech during which famed South African leader Winnie Mandela spoke of the power of reggae music to inspire South Africans as they fought for equal rights during Apartheid, the former South African policy of racial segregation of other groups from white inhabitants.
Anchored annually in Kingston, Jamaica, International Reggae Day has expanded over the years with public forums and performances, tree plantings, tours, fashion shows, panel discussions, online media festivals, and tributes to pioneers and distinguished achievers of the genre.
The St. John’s panel discussion, “From Jamrock2Hip Hop," centers on the genesis of the relationship between the reggae and hip hop music cultures, and the historical linkages that they share. Other panelists include Mr. Green; Pat Meschino, a journalist for Billboard Magazine; Aaron Talbert, Vice President, Marketing, VP Records; “DJ Max” Maxwell Coughlin, Student General Manager of WSJU, the University radio station; and Larry “The Duck” Dunn ’79SVC, a radio host for Sirius XM. He is also a member of the CCPS Advisory Board.
More than 35 cities worldwide will present virtual events in this year’s celebration.