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MUSIC: Celebrating Jamaican Independence Day with Stevie Wonder Reggae Covers (LISTEN)

Written by Good Black News

August 6, 2020

by Jeff Meier (FB: Jeff.Meier.90)

Jamaican Independence Day is celebrated every August 6th in honor of the date in 1962 when Jamaica gained its independence from England after more than 300 years of British colonial rule.

On the heels of Jamaica’s independence, Jamaican ska music partially shifted to celebrate the country’s newfound freedoms, eventually paving the way for the birth of reggae music, which has been the driving force of the nation’s music since then.

To enjoy the evolution of those sounds, you can check out the GBN playlists we posted earlier this year – Celebrating The History and Evolution of Ska Music and Celebrating Reggae Songs of Struggle and Peace.

All you faithful Good Black News readers may also remember that just a few months ago we saluted the amazing Stevie Wonder with a month-long series of themed playlists (see below). Well, believe it or not, we still had a few additional Stevie playlists we never got to share with you in May. So today, in honor of Jamaican Independence Day, we are showcasing “Stevie Wonder Goes to Jamaica – Reggae Wonder Covers.”

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Although it’s hard to remember a time when iconic reggae superstar Bob Marley wasn’t universally known, back in 1974, when Stevie Wonder first issued the song “Boogie on Reggae Woman,” Marley had yet to really break through on the U.S. music charts – and not that many people knew what Stevie was talking about.

Always one to infuse his music with innovative sounds, in the final years of the seventies when Stevie acknowledged reggae yet again with the smash hit “Master Blaster (Jammin’)” – in which he detailed “From the park I hear rhythms / Marley’s hot on the box” – the world had finally caught up with Stevie’s vision.

Later, in 1982, Stevie even wrote and produced the big R&B/reggae crossover hit ‘Try Jah Love” for Jamaica superstars Third World.

While Stevie was relatively early to jump on reggae sounds, reggae music had actually jumped on Stevie Wonder sounds even earlier. A longtime tradition of reggae music – particularly in the “lovers rock” genre – is to remake popular US chart hits in a reggae style.

Wonder’s hits provided fertile territory. From the late 1960s, all the way up through contemporary times, Stevie’s own hits as well as his compositions for others have yielded dozens of reggae cover versions, whether ballads or uptempo, more modern dancehall sounds.

Today’s playlist kicks off with Stevie’s version of “Master Blaster” and his Third World composition before heading into covers from today’s most known reggae hitmakers such as Wayne Wonder, Tanya Stephens, Sly & Robbie, Maxi Priest, Bob Marley scion Stephen Marley, as well as such legends as John Holt, Desmond Dekker, Dennis Brown, Toots & the Maytals, and Lee Perry & the Upsetters.

Finally, in honor of the “birth” of Jamaica’s independence from colonial rule, we close with Barry Biggs’ reggae rendition of Stevie’s classic “Happy Birthday,” which Wonder famously composed to honor Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday as well as Black America’s fight for equal rights and justice.

Happy Birthday, Jamaica!


Original article source: | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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