by Howard Campbell
[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – February is celebrated as Black History Month in the United States. In Jamaica, it is recognized as Reggae Month.
African-Americans and Jamaican reggae artists have a long association that can be traced to the 1960s when the music emerged from clubs and dance halls in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital.
Acts like Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack and Gwen Guthrie, as well as musicians Al Anderson and Donald Kinsey, collaborated with reggae acts.
Here’s a bit of trivia:
- Impresario Danny Sims and singer Johnny Nash were living in Jamaica during the mid-1960s when they met The Wailers, which comprised Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. The group recorded a number of songs for JAD Records, a company owned by Sims and Nash. Among the musicians who played on those songs was drummer Bernard Purdie, known for his work with Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Steely Dan. Marley wrote Stir it Up, which was a big hit for Nash.
- Singer Gwen Guthrie, from New Jersey, worked with Sly and Robbie during the 1980s. She did a rousing duet with Peter Tosh called Nothing But Love, from Tosh’s 1981 album, Wanted Dread & Alive.
- Stevie Wonder is co-writer of Try Jah Love by Third World. The single is from the band’s 1982 album of the same name.
- Alicia Keys reached out to Cham (then Baby Cham) for a remix of his hit song, Ghetto Story, in 2009. They filmed a music video for the track in downtown Kingston.
- Junior Reid made pop charts in 2006 and 2007, collaborating with rappers The Game and MIMS on It’s Okay (One Blood) and This is Why I’m Hot, respectively.
- Baby Boy, a collaboration between Beyonce and Sean Paul, topped Billboard Magazine’s pop chart in 2003.