The timeless icons of Reggae music

Reggae has been inscribed on the list of intangible cultural heritage of Humanity by a specialized committee of UNESCO, Thursday in Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius.

The UN agency highlighted the “contribution” of this Jamaican music to international awareness “on the issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity, and its dimension both brain, socio-political, sensual and spiritual”.

This is an opportunity to discover or remember in pictures who are these musicians who made the history of Reggae.

Bob Marley

Bob Marley has made this music popular and he has become an icon. Reggae, nominated by Jamaica, emerged in the late 1960s. Musical style from ska and rocksteady, he has also integrated influences of jazz and blues of America.

Bob Marley, born Robert Nesta Marley in 1945 and died of cancer in 1981, has virtually introduced reggae to the world. Author, composer and performer, the musician is author of worldwide hits such as “One love”, “No woman no cry” or “Could you be loved”.

Going beyond the only musical framework, it has become a true cultural reference. In 1980, Bob Marley fulfilled his dream of playing in Africa, first in Gabon and then at the independence ceremony of Zimbabwe, the last African country to achieve independence.

His name was inscribed on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the United States after his death. It must be known that Bob Marley, a committed musician who becomes a target, in December 1976, he escapes a shootout just before his outdoor concert “Smile Jamaica”. The star is injured but he gets away but his wife Rita Marley gets shot in the head.

Rita Marley

Rita Marley is the widow of the musician, Bob Marley. She started singing as a solo artist before her marriage to the Reggae legend in 1966. Rita organizes and is part of the trio of women (with Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt) who accompanied Bob Marley in studio and in concert, until the death of the musician.

Peter Tosh

With Bob Marley, whom he met in 1962, Peter Tosh is one of the most famous figures of reggae. Singer, guitarist, organist and composer of reggae, he mainly founded in 1963, with Junior Braithwaite, Neville Livingston and Bob Marley vocal group ‘The Wailers’.

In 1969, when Bob Marley returned from the United States, he founded with him and Bunny the label Tuff Gong, then Peter Tosh will co-sign the protest anthem “Get Up Stand Up” that he played duet with Marley, then he separates from Bob Marley. In 1976, he recorded the album Legalize It (Grammy posthumous for the best reggae album in 1988.

He poses in the middle of a ganja field on the cover of the album. The song of the same name, which promotes hemp, is banned on its release in Jamaica. On September 11, 1987, Peter Tosh was shot dead at his home in mysterious circumstances when he was to take control of a radio station in Jamaica.

Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff, whose real name is James Chambers, is a Jamaican reggae artist of international renown open to other forms of music and an actor.

His success outside of Jamaica, his country, began around 1969, he is known for his many hit songs including “Wonderful World, Beautiful People”, “Many Rivers to Cross”, “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “The Harder They Come” and “Reggae Night”.

Jimmy Cliff is one of the few personalities still alive to be honoured on the Order of Merit, the highest honour given by the Jamaican government in the arts and sciences sector.

Sister Nancy

Real name Ophlin Russell-Myers, Jamaican, is a singer and DJ of reggae, and more precisely of dance hall. She is famous for being the “first female DJ” and has been described as a “dominant female voice for over two decades” on the dance hall scene.

Her first steps in reggae are thus during his adolescence. Her career literally flies away with the album “One Two” in 1982 that contains several hits (One Two, Money Cannot Buy Me Love, Transport Connection).

Sister Nancy eventually moved to New Jersey in the United States and joined a bank as an accountant. She continues, however, to regularly perform a few concerts and to play festivals around the world and says she prefers “to give way to other sisters”.

Alpha Blondy

The Ivorian Alpha Blondy, whose real name is Seydou Koné, was born on January 1, 1953, studied in Liberia and then in the United States. It is there, in New York, that he discovers the Reggae. Locked up in a psychiatric hospital, he spent two years there, clinging to the music and his songs.

His first album “Jah Glory” (1983) is an instant hit, with a flagship title “Brigadier Sabari”, sung in Dioula and inspired by a real “coup-de-fist operation” of the Ivorian police, to which the singer assisted.

Alpha Blondy sings as well in Dioula, Baoule, French and English. Alpha Blondy does a lot of tours, especially in West Africa. Its performances in large halls, even stadiums are as many gatherings of youth. In 1985, he released a third opus entitled “Apartheid is Nazism” anthem militant freedom and peace.

In 1999, his album “Elohim” includes headlines about the singer’s anger at political abuse, corruption and misery, “The thieves of the republic”, “Dictatorship” or “The tail of the devil”. Alpha Blondy intervenes very much in the debates which concerns the life of his country, the Ivory Coast is prey in the beginning of 2000 to a real political crisis.

The ReggaeMan embarks on an adventure of a completely different kind, by launching in March 2015, a radio station in Abidjan, Alpha Blondy FM, mix of humour and music. The programs give way to a column animated by Alpha Blondy himself, “Radio Book” in which he becomes a reader-storyteller for listeners.

Lucky Dube

South African reggae singer Lucky Dube was born in 1964 and died on October 18, 2007 in South Africa. He recorded his first songs at age 18, with a group. He has won numerous awards over the course of his career, both personally and for some of his albums.

At the Ghana Music Awards of 1996, he is the “International Artist of the Year”, and at the Monte Carlo World Music Awards, Serious Reggae Business earns a reward for the “Best Selling Album”. Lucky Dube has duoed with artists such as Peter Gabriel, Sinead O’Connor, Michael Jackson, Seal, Ziggy Marley, Celine Dion, Sting, etc.

Hundreds of people gathered on October 24, 2007 in Johannesburg for the funeral of Lucky Dube. Lucky Dube was shot dead on October 18, 2007, during an attempted theft of his car in the suburbs of Johannesburg, around eight o’clock local time.

The artist died instantly, shot by the criminals in front of his 16-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. The same day, a public homage is paid to him on his farm near Newcastle. The five alleged perpetrators are arrested in the days that follow. Thokozani Dube receives a prize in honour of his father Lucky Dube at the MTV Africa Music Awards (MAMA) wen 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya.

Tiken Jah Fakoly

The singer records a hit in 2009. Tiken Jah Fakoly, whose real name is Doumbia Moussa Fakoly, was born on June 23, 1968 in Odienné, Ivory Coast. He is a singer-songwriter and singer of reggae. He soon discovered reggae music and set up his first group, Djelys, in 1987.

He gradually succeeded in making himself known at regional and national level with his concerts. Tiken Jah wins the Victoire de la musique in 2003 in the Reggae/World album category for the Françafrique album.

During a rap festival in Dakar, Senegal in December 2007, Fakoly asked President Wade, among other things, to “leave power if he loves Senegal”. He also talks about the danger the country is facing. Fakoly is declared persona non grata in Senegal.

In 2013, he released a documentary Sababou directed by Samir Benchikh on Ivory Coast in which Tiken Jah participates actively. It aims to promote a positive face of Africa.

In September 2015, the Ivorian singer presented Racines, an album of reggae standards covers in which he directed several duets with some big names like U-Roy or Ken Boothe.

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