International Reggae Day (IRD) is once again set for July 1. In a calendar year the highly publicised celebratory day falls after Reggae Month, to which February is dedicated. However, IRD founder, Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings, said it cannot be overshadowed by Reggae Month, as IRD has its specific goals and initiatives.
Davis said the day, largely promoted as a media festival, encompasses several activities worldwide which are designed to maximise the power of music, media, technology and experiential event marketing. "International Reggae Day is a local and global platform to highlight the best of Jamaica's creative industries and the global reggae community," Davis said.
For IRD 2013 iconic musician/production duo Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare and the late Peter Tosh, OJ, will be honoured. Davis said persons are awarded every year, based on their contribution to the music industry. Homage will also be paid to reggae's Crown Prince, Dennis Brown, who died on July 1, 1999.
Tosh and Sly and Robbie will not be honoured in regular fashion, using a physical location. Instead, there will be a virtual ceremony. International Reggae Day (IRD) is now on its 19th staging. However, this year the organisers have decided to go completely virtual with its events. It has established a presence in cyberspace at ireggaeday.com, facebook.com/internationalreggaeday and twitter.com/ireggaeday.
"For the last few years July 1st has been celebrated primarily as a media festival, with special programming produced for the celebration. Each year the awardees differ, as do the programming themes. This year, IRD honours the Honourable Peter Tosh, OJ, and the legendary rhythm twins Sly & Robbie, and participating media will be invited to salute their works by featuring their music as part of the day's special programming," Davis said.
Davis said a number of companies will be supporting IRD 2013 by offering reduced prices on their goods and services. "Participating lifestyle brands such as Bridget Sandals will offer special IRD sale discounts for July 1st at their annual shopping party. A number of hotels across the island will host IRD parties for their guests. Overall, fans of good music can expect an exceptional day of Jamaican music features across media, at home and abroad," Davis said.
IRD 2013 will also show how Jamaica's strength as a global cultural superpower through documentaries, themed playlists, award features, special interviews, overseas links, concert features, album features, profile features and discussion panels.
Various issues affecting the entertainment industry will also be addressed by participating media. Some issues to be explored are music as a business; accessing new income streams from intellectual property; who pays the piper in the digital age?; the role of advertising in the new music business model; how to protect music investment - steps in protecting your song/brand; and defining the Jamaican sound.
Other topics which will be visited on International Reggae Day are those concerning the management of Jamaica's creative industry and developing Brand Jamaica. The media's role in sustaining Jamaica's music legacy will also be underlined, while the ever-burning topic of payola will also be revisited.
first of its kind
Some of the topics have been visited by panellists during Reggae Month. However, Davis says IRD was the first of its kind to dedicate a particular time period to reggae, and will continue to execute its core mission. The goal of IRD is to reach 100 million people on July 1st. Davis said over 20 countries are expected to participate in this year's celebrations.
"International Reggae Day is the first ever calendar event to be officially proclaimed and dedicated to reggae music and Jamaica's creative industries. An internationally recognised annual event, International Reggae Day mobilises the combined power of music, media and technology to create a global reggae party on July 1st," Davis said.
Davis added that IRD seeks to reinforce Jamaica's position as the culturally authentic home of reggae music and encourage quality media programming, airplay and exports. It also seeks to mobilise the global community in the celebration of Jamaica's positive cultural impact.
IRD is endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board and has received annual support from Jamaica's music and media fraternity. All are encouraged to wear reggae colours, plant a tree and or donate to charity on July 1.
There have been recommendations from music figure Roy Black and Professor Carolyn Cooper that Reggae Month be moved from February to July, to coincide with International Reggae Day celebrations held on July 1. They argue that February is already saturated with important events such Bob Marley and Dennis Brown's birthday celebrations, Black History Month celebrations and Valentine's Day.