KINGSTON, Jamaica – Reggae Sunsplash is back.
The return of the original reggae festival was heralded on Thursday 27th April, 2006 with a replica street dance and stage show at the Old Hope Road headquarters of the Guardsman Group in Kingston.
In between impromptu performances by artistes such as festival headliner and veteran reggae singer Freddie McGregor, government officials, members of Jamaica’s business elite, artistes, journalists and lovers of reggae lymed, reminiscing on the great moments of Reggae Sunsplash past and eagerly discussing this year’s event.
“This is not a stage show. It is a festival that seeks to expose all areas of Jamaican culture – the music, the art, the food – anything that is reggae and everything that is Jamaican,” said Charles Campbell, a member of the festival’s original production team and now current director of operations and production.
Rodney Davis, CEO and president of Cable and Wireless (CWJ), the event’s title sponsor, was also quick to support the festival’s revival, indicating that the four-day event was directly in keeping with his company’s objective of connecting with Jamaican people through culture.
“The love of reggae music unites people. Not just our own people, but it’s a common bond we share with so many people around the world. It’s a natural fit for CWJ to support the festival, as we continually strive to bring people together as a business, and Reggae Sunsplash will bring so many people together in such a positive way,” said Davis.
Reggae Sunsplash was first staged in 1978 in Montego Bay and for years was the premier event on the world reggae calendar. Following a series of venue changes that took the festival from Montego Bay to Kingston and later St Ann, the festival was put on pause in 1997, and has not been held in Jamaica since. For the first time in nine years the festival will be staged, from August 3-6 at a brand-new location – the Richmond Estate near Ocho Rios.
That venue, a sprawling 200-acre seaside property, has the capacity to accommodate more than 150,000 people and 20, 000 vehicles, and will have two stages, an artists’ gallery, recreation areas and an extensive food court that will serve Jamaican fare.
This year’s festival line-up will include over one hundred dancers, poets and musical acts. Among artistes already confirmed to perform are international stars, Alpha Blondy, UB40, Steel Pulse, veterans Marcia Griffiths, Bob Andy and Toots and the Maytals, and singers Luciano and Morgan Heritage. Also on the line up are dancehall ‘A-Listers’ Beenie Man, Ninja Man, and Vybz Kartel and their female counterparts, Macka Diamond, Lady Saw and Tanya Stephens.
Wayne Sinclair, Managing Director Sunsplash 2006 and Reggae recording artiste Luciano
At the recent media launch of Reggae Sunsplash 2006 in Kingston Jamaica. Luciano is one of the top artistes billed to perform at Reggae Sunsplash August 3-6 at Richmond Estate, Priory St. Ann.
Unlike any other production of its kind in Jamaica, Reggae Sunsplash will also feature performances by poets Steppa, Dingo and Payne, the L’Acadco dancers and the Kingston drummers. “Every night of the festival will start with drumming. As you know reggae music begins with the drum and so we have to honour that,” Campbell said.
In addition the festival will ‘give a buss’ to new and upcoming acts, including the winner of the B-Mobile talent competition.
In the past Reggae Sunsplash has seen performances by legends Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and R&B soul man Stevie Wonder.