Dermott Hussey Discusses Worldwide Impact Of Reggae and Steelpan

Black History Month ended with a discussion on the world wide impact of Reggae and Steelpan at the OAS with Dermott Hussey

By: Derrick Scott

Washington, D.C. – Reggae’s worldwide impact since its birth in Jamaica 50 years to become an international music has been detailed in several studies, including Google search data showing a town in Poland with the largest per capita interest in reggae.

Trinidad and Tobago’s steelpan also took center stage in the Washington, D.C., event headlined “Afro-Inspired Culture in the Americas” held in the historic Hall of the Americas at OAS Headquarters, where a bust of Marcus Garvey sits majestically.

“The music is exploding in South America and Africa,” renowned Jamaican musicologist Dermott Hussey said of reggae, in a keynote presentation to an international audience at an Organization of American States event ringing out celebrations marking February as Black History Month in the United States.

In his discussion on reggae and Marley’s role in it, Hussey also revealed the upcoming publication of “An Oral History of Bob Marley.”

Google search data gathered from 2004 to 2015 identify the Poland’s Ostróda as the top city searching reggae; Hua Hin, Thailand, was fourth; and Cambridge, England, ranked sixth while Kingston, Jamaica, ranked stood at 16th among the top 20 cities, said Hussey, who hosts a reggae program on SiriusXM satellite radio.

Hussey noted that in 2016, Brazil, the first non-English-speaking country to honor the iconic Jamaican musician, celebrated its first Bob Marley Day on May 11th, the anniversary of Marley’s death in 1981.

Hussey, who is now based in Washington, D.C., co-authored the book,  Bob Marley: Reggae King of the World and produced the Marley interview on Marley’s album Talkin’ Blues, revealed other research showing the impact of reggae music, especially Bob Marley’s, on babies was also successfully demonstrated.

Dermott Hussey discusses the Impact Of Reggae and Steelpan
Jamaica’s musicologist Dermott Hussey presents the history of Reggae at an event headlined “Afro-Inspired Culture in the Americas” held in the historic Hall of the Americas at OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, February 23, 2017.
(Photo Derrick Scott)

He drew on a recent University of Glasgow study and other experiments that underscore reggae’s growth to become “an international music” since its emerged on the scene some 50 years ago. He said as a result, Britain’s Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals plans on installing a sound system in all kennels, “to play Bon Jovi and Bob Marley.”

His persona, his music, and message “are as alive globally as when he lived,” Hussey said of Marley, sharing that today, 36 years after his death, “he’s got 70 million Facebook fans.”

The steelpan, Trinidad and Tobago’s national instrument, “was born in struggle,” asserted Von Martin, host of the long-running Caribbeana program that signed Washington, D.C.’s WPFW 89.3 FM  station on the air in the summer of 1977.

A Caribbean musicology expert and broadcaster who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, Martin delivered a fascinating history of steelpan’s very emergence as “the product of real suffering and pain but, at the same time, happiness and celebration.”

The only acoustic instrument invented in the 20th century developed against the backdrop of the enslavement of African people and colonization from the 16th century, culminating in the mid-20th century with independence . “Pan was there as an eyewitness – immersed in it all,” as Martin told it.

The Jamaican Ambassador Audrey Marks was on hand, among many of the member state representatives to the hemispheric organization. OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro welcomes the guests and staff, while Assistant Secretary General Nestor Mendez, whose office organized the event, took “A look at Afro-inspired culture in the Americas.”

South Florida Caribbean News

The SFLCN.com Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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