JAM | Jun 21, 2023

It’s World Music Day!

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Music is an integral part of the Jamaican culture and is perhaps one of the main things that Jamaica is mostly known for globally. Today (June 21) is being observed as World Music Day or Fête de la Musique which seeks to highlight the joy that music brings and encourage people to play music, dance and sing together.

As popular reggae legend, Bob Marley stated “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain, ” and undoubtedly, music has a way of bringing people together from different races, gender and socioeconomic background in a cheerful spirit.

World Music Day was first celebrated in France in 1982 and later spiralled into a global celebration.

As musicians, dancers and the general public celebrate World Music Day, it would be remiss not to highlight some of Jamaica’s most popular musical genres.


Mento is a vibrant but simple form of Jamaican music that has influenced reggae and ska music. Mento is often classified as rural music and consist of an infusion of both African and European elements.

This musical genere incorporates musical instruments such as the classical guitar, banjo, hand drums and the marimbula or rhumba box.

It became popular in the late 1940s with musicians such as Count Lasher, Harold Richardson, Lord Flea and a host of others.


The Skatalites Band (Photo: SFGATE).

Ska is a musical genre which originated in Jamaica in the 1950s. It consists of an infusion of musical elements such as mento, calypso, jazz and rhythm and blues.

Songs such as My Boy Lollipop by Robert Spencer and Be My Guest by by Fats Domino, John Marascalco and Tommy Boyce were popular hits during that 1950s.

Music talents such as the Skatalites band, Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, Eric Morris and Jimmy Cliff helped to popularize the musical genre.


While calpyso did not originate in Jamaica, it has become a part of our rich musical heritage and have influenced other musical genres.

Calypso originated in Trindad and Tobago in the 19th century from West African kaiso and canboulay music. It later spread to other parts of the region during the mid-20th century.

The musical genre became with stars such as Lord Kitchener who released hits songs such as Shops Close Too Early and London Is the Place for Me.


Late reggae icon, Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert, lead singer for the Maytals. (Photo:

Reggae is one of the most popular musical generes that have originated from Jamaica. It originated in the 1960s and have been influenced by other musical generes such as mento, jazz, rhythm and bluzz and ska.

The musical genere is said to have been popularized by the Jamaican musical group, The Toots and the Maytals who sang Do the Reggay which introduced the genre to a global audience.

Reggae has become popular over the years with several other musical legends such as Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Gimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Desmond Dekker and several others.


Bounty Killer and Beenie Man faced of in one of the most viewed of the early Verzuz battles.

Dancehall is another popular Jamaica musical genre that originated in the late 1970s. Dancehall and reggae music is today two of the most popular genres in Jamaica.

Dancehall is said to have developed during a period of political turmoil mostly felt in the inner city areas. The musical genere, similar to reggae is said to have higlighted what was happening during this period and what the people were experiencing.

Some musical talents that popularized the genre include Sister Nancy, Lady G, Lady Saw, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Yellow Man, Buju Banton among others.

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