Known for her love, knowledge and unwavering drive to promote reggae music locally and abroad, Andrea Davis embodies what it means to blend passion and purpose. From conceptualizing International Reggae Day (IRD) in 1994 to organizing the annual celebrations, Davis wears many hats when it comes to Jamaica’s music and creative industry. Guided by her belief that “reggae is the first true global sound”, she has traveled to every corner of the globe to broadcast and study the impact that genre and culture have had on people from diverse backgrounds.
She has worked with many big names on the island, including Toots and The Maytals and Morgan Heritage, while serving as a speaker; brand, creative and policy consultant; writer; film and television producer; and public speaker. Davis’ key areas of strategic focus include intellectual property, the creative economy and branding. She has done extensive work with the Jamaica Production Corporation, the Jamaica Music Society, the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office and the Jamaican Government, with the sole purpose of advocating for the development of the music and creative industry. and to package it for a global audience, so that the island can reap the maximum benefits.
As the gleaner celebrates International Reggae Day, commemorating 60 years of ska music, Davis speaks with five questions on the current state of the local music industry and the importance of the IRD in keeping reggae relevant as it competes with other burgeoning global genres.
1. Why was 60 years of ska chosen as this year’s focus for the IRD?
As Jamaica celebrates its 60th anniversary of independence, the IRD shines a spotlight on ska music as its soundtrack. Ska culture, its pioneers and ambassadors are celebrated for their contribution to Jamaica’s rich musical heritage. Ska was the world’s first commercially successful music export, and the world, in turn, has cultivated a bountiful garden that Jamaica has sown. Music historians generally divide the history of ska into three periods: the original Jamaican scene of the 1960s (first wave); the English two-tone ska revival of the late 1970s (second wave); and the third wave ska movement, which began in the 1980s and became popular in the United States in the 1990s. The fourth wave includes the worldwide explosion of ska with local bands, festivals and labels, from Asia to Latin America, over the past two decades.
2. The IRD celebrations are aimed at a global audience because reggae is known and supported around the world. With the rise of genres such as Afrobeats and Reggaeton, which have gained popularity and support around the world, how do celebrations keep reggae music relevant?
Reggae music is the first true global beat, and it has been propelled by a diverse audience that has embraced the genre as an important part of global culture. Jamaican music has spawned a number of local variations of its influence, from ska punk to hip-hop, reggaeton to EDM. Jamaica has been at the epicenter of creativity for the past 60 years and has offered the world six genres of music, which continue to enjoy market appeal worldwide. As a source of innovation and creativity, Jamaica remains an important contributor to world culture, but the explosion of Afrobeat and reggaeton has, on the whole, surpassed Jamaican music, with the exception of Bob Marley and SeanPaul. IRD is a marketing platform for the best of Jamaica’s creative industries and the international Jamaican music industry. It serves as a catalyst for media, brands and stakeholders around the world who use it to champion, celebrate and inform the growth of reggae globally. IRD is a hybrid festival plan designed to unite, inspire and uplift the global reggae community. Powered by participating media and event partners in the past, IRD has been celebrated in over 40 countries including the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia , Brazil, India, China, Singapore, Thailand, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and the Caribbean.
3. What do you think is missing from the current local music industry, and if you had the chance, how would you improve it?
A number of steps are necessary to foster the enabling ecosystem required for Jamaica to remain competitive in the international music industry, including education and training, access to capital, venue and institutional infrastructure, as well as marketing and promotions. For more than six decades, the world has been trying to sound like Jamaica, from Ms. Lou’s elevated Patois to Bob Marley spreading reggae to every corner. Over the past decade, however, it feels like Jamaica has gone from innovating its own sonic expression to imitating others. We must connect the roots to the branches so that future generations can have a solid foundation from which to build the next chapters of Jamaica’s musical heritage.
4. When you founded International Reggae Day in 1994, what motivated or inspired you to do so? Tell us the story and the journey to where we are now.
International Reggae Day was inspired by a speech given by Winnie Mandela during her visit to Jamaica with her husband Nelson, after her release from prison, in which she spoke of the power of reggae music to inspire and uplift the people of the South. -African in his fight. against apartheid. Struck by the impact of Jamaican culture so far away, the idea of a day to celebrate this genre through the media originated in 1994 as Reggae Day and expanded to International Reggae Day in 1996. , after the birth of the Internet, which offered a new and exciting way to connect to the world.
5. What are some of your favorite ska hits and performers, and who and what hits are you listening to right now?
For me, The Skatalites, as chief architects of the genre, remain the benchmark for ska with anthems like Eastern Standard Time and Cannons of Navarone. Classics from artists like The Maytals – ska war and never grow old; Millie Petit – My pacifier boyDesmond Dekkar – Israelites; Prince Buster – Al Capone. The Wailers- Calm downand Derrick Morgan- Walking forward, are currently in rotation on my July 1st playlist.