Producers of International Reggae Day (#IRD), the annual global celebration of Jamaican music culture had previously announced the decision to go fully virtual this year. This bold experiment proved a sound decision, as Jamaica and its music culture took centre stage on #JulyOne and gave the world a much-needed cultural respite in the midst of the global pandemic. From the Seychelle islands and African mainland countries to the USA and from European to South American cities, more than 50,000 persons whose IP addresses reflected over 140 countries across six continents and the Caribbean, logged in for the broadcast.
The 24HR virtual event anchored in Kingston – home of Reggae music, began broadcasting precisely at midnight on JulyOne with the Jamaican national anthem. The next 24 hours was a curated feast of local and international reggae-driven content which included live and recorded performances, discussion panels, official messages, interviews, brief features and themed sets from Selectas and sound systems. #IRD delivered an engaging online experience centered around its 2020 theme #FromJamrock2HipHop – an ode to another significant chapter in Jamaica’s music history and the Caribbean island’s global cultural impact. #FromJamrock2HipHop focused the programme and global attention on the genesis of and continued connections between Jamaican music and Hip Hop. Two related lifestyle music cultures that continue to influence the world.
Andrea Davis – Founder of International Reggae Day commented on this year’s programme staged. Noting that “Our collaborators abroad and at home really delivered. We executed a great production anchored from Kingston this year and feedback has been extremely positive.” Already looking at next year’s plans, Davis noted that “the numbers in terms of viewership speak for themselves and going forward the 24HR broadcast which was another first ever for Reggae, will be a standard component of the worldwide celebrations and partnerships forged.”
Under the 2020 theme #FromJamrock2HipHop, IRD spotlighted the influence of Jamaican music culture on Hip Hop and the genesis of and continued collaborations between the two influential genres. Eleven legendary #GameChangers in Hip Hop and Jamaican music were recognized for their significant impact and woven through the virtual programme. Honourees included DJ Kool Herc who migrated to the United States in the early seventies and is credited as the godfather of Hip Hop as well as Biggie Smalls, Shinehead, Pepa Denton (of Salt N Pepa), Busta Rhymes and Heavy D – Rap and Hip Hop legends who were all born in Jamaica or to Jamaican parents; the Fugees and Dancehall luminaries Supercat, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man and Damian Marley.
Throughout the day, all things reggae trended internationally on social media. With impressions being tabulated in the hundreds of thousands, Government leaders, musicians, influencers, media entities and reggae lovers around the world paid tribute to the reggae genre and Jamaica’s outsized influence on world culture. In addition to the 24Hr broadcast anchored in Kingston, there were simultaneous satellite activities happening. These included multiple programming activities in traditional and online media platforms, other virtual events and specials in various countries.
For persons to relive the JulyOne experience or for those who missed the broadcast, IRD2020 video highlights themed #IRDRewind are now being rolled out on the Official Youtube Channel @iReggaeTV and on the IRD social media platforms on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and the website www.irregaeday.com.