Rebel Salute 2015, The Preservation of Reggae Music
Will the Circle Be Unbroken?
Commentary & Photos by Sista Irie, Reggae Photojournalist
Republished courtesy of Island-Stage.
The Preservation of Reggae Music is much more than a noble cause, it is a national imperative. A country so overwhelmingly rich in talent and recognized the world over for its musical heritage, would only be foolish to not nourish the cultural legacy blessed upon them. Undeniably, Jamaica can use its cultural heritage to stabilize and enhance its society. This is one nation where many need the basics of life, including the opportunity to be successful and to advance as an international leader of influence reflected through the arts and creative industries.
Rebel Salute has grown into Jamaica’s most internationally acclaimed roots reggae music festival. What began as a birthday celebration for Tony Rebel, is now a global attraction, a cultural reflection of immense talent from past and current generations and a perfect blend of ‘all that is right’ with Jamaican music. Twenty six hours across the span of two nights, sixty artists including bands, singers and individually renown musical legends captivate a massive audience from dusk to dawn, an experience when night becomes day like the twinkling of a star. The vital importance of Rebel Salute, a stage show defining musical history from rising stars to historical legacies, goes far beyond entertainment. The quickening pace of the passing of reggae’s founding fathers has made festivals such as Rebel Salute a critical form of documentation and crucial to a future generation’s knowledge of their cultural identity.
This year’s featured headliners includes two bands that have made significant contributions to the quality and influence of reggae music for over thirty years. Third World and Inner Circle played major roles establishing a level of professionalism and creative sound leading to worldwide recognition for Jamaican music. Both have experienced the hurtful loss with the passing of their key singers, Bunny Ruggs from Third World and Jacob Miller of Inner Circle. The reality is their creative spirit cannot be broken and each continues the never ending circle of musical life. AJ Brown performing as lead singer for Third World along with the collaboration of Chronixx performing a remake of Jacob Miller’s Tenement Yard with Inner Circle was nothing short of genius, captivating and energizing the hope and future of reggae music in the hearts of the fans. The future shines bright for both bands and the circle will NOT be broken. Reggae music will continue to be parented and nurtured by the extreme talent of both old and young. What goes around eventually comes around.
Roots reggae music known for it’s spiritually injected messages spiced with social commentary has shown it’s endurance over time. Slackness and degradation imposed in various cycles of Jamaican music may occasionally capture the attention of young people who have lost faith in a viable future. However, it is weak in sustainability. The slackness era of negativity is being currently replaced by a resurgence of creativity exemplified in the works of the Rasta youth as they bring forth the fruits of the past while influencing and guiding the heartbeat of the future. The circle cannot be broken once the intellectual tenets of spiritual fullness and self pride fills the gaps of mental vacancy and delivers a consciousness of determination and political militancy.
Some say ganja is the healing of the nation. In my opinion, Rastafari, the very culture shamelessly shunned and oppressed at the highest level by those hired to protect Jamaican culture, is the real healing of the nation. The spirituality of Rastafari is the key to a better world. The belief that ‘I and I’ is a relationship between oneself and the Creator, that unity is the law of life, that understanding one’s history leads to strength and self confidence and that love is the key to living life, are principles that promote peace and justice. There can be no better prophesy for the healing of the world. Salvation is ‘alive and well’ in the heart of Rastafari, and incorporated into prophetic guidance embedded in the music.
As Bob Marley once said:
“Herb is a plant”
“Herb is so good for everything. Why these people who want to do so much good for everyone, who call themselves government and this and that, why them say you must not use the herb? You see, them say you must not use the herb because it makes you rebel…….Against what?” If ganja releases one from mental slavery, then we must defiantly reveal the truth via rebel music. As we begin to experience decriminalization and legalization of ganja on a national and international level, the full circle brings us from a criminal perspective to the recognition of sacred medicinal healing. Roots reggae music will continue to be the avenue to administer and reveal the principles of Rastafari livity”.
Reggae music is the documentary of universal love and happiness. However, this message of love may sometimes be delivered with militancy. It is the voice of the people. The intellectual overstanding of reality and truth will always make it through as society can only take so much oppression and injustice before rebelling. The people will be heard and the obvious difference between right and wrong is clearly evident in the lyrics of roots reggae music. Good over evil will continue to prevail and the circle will remain unbroken.
The hard work of Tony Rebel, Flames Productions and his crew has contributed greatly to the forward movement and recognition of reggae music. In an interview with Tony on The Conscious Party, Tony reveals the intent of the festival is to establish a family event designed to highlight the best reggae has to offer while opening up opportunity to new rising talent. Tony works diligently behind the scenes promoting the critical need for government and corporate support of Jamaica’s cultural and artistic industries.
There were many incredible performances this year at Rebel Salute. Nearly every artist demonstrated the highest level of talent, maturity and professionalism. The rising stars assure us, the circle will remain unbroken, as they are developing wings of the future. A few performances that stood out from an amazing line-up include Inner Circle with a guest appearance by Chronixx, Third World with new lead singer, AJ Brown, Jah9, Queen Ifrica, Freddy McGregor, Jesse Royal and Kabaka Pyramid. Another reflective moment came with the release of balloons commemorating the passing of reggae greats such as Bunny Ruggs, Jacob Miller, and all who have been lost over the years. Luciano brings a sense of serene joy and love with the morning sun. Even after 12 hours running back and forth with a heavy camera, I was mesmerized by each performance and filled with the confidence that reggae is in good hands. The circle of love and music will continue to be the lifeline of the future. It will remain impenetrable.
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Enjoy a selection of Rebel Salute Photos in the Gallery below.
Images Rebel Salute 2015 © Sista Irie Photography
A Reflection in Time
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