Jamaican Artist, Educator & Multi-Potentialite Michael Sean Harris is the brainchild behind the new portal Reggae On-Line, to be officially launched on Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at 6:30 pm EST, thanks to the sponsorship support of Jamaica’s Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF). Harris, currently an Assistant Professor in the Voice Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston, USA and former Acting Dean & Director of Studies for the School of Music at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica is a longtime proponent of promoting and preserving the island’s rich cultural heritage.
“I have always wanted Jamaicans and people who have made Jamaica their ‘place’ to take the lead in codifying and analyzing the various aspects of the culture and with that, documenting various aspects of our culture and heritage.”
According to Harris, the goal of the platform is to connect with experts and practitioners in the various fields to create online courses informed by their expertise. By so doing, he believes there will be greater authenticity and the culture can be imparted to others from a space of authority and facts. “I hope that this portal can be the go-to place for anyone with a love and interest in Jamaican culture to learn and be informed in a way that is respectful of the originators and innovators and the syncretism from which this culture arises.”
For years, Jamaica’s culture, specifically Reggae and Dancehall, has been a source of fascination and intrigue for musicians, researchers and fans across the United States, Canada and Europe, with many of these enthusiasts making the trek to the island to explore and immerse themselves in the history of the music, the culture, the language, the food, and the various communities.
A variety of courses will be offered targeting anyone with an interest in, love for or curiosity about Jamaican music and culture. “This could be non-Jamaicans with such an affinity, persons existing in the Jamaican diaspora who desire a deeper knowledge and connection as well as persons living in Jamaica who might get more in-depth details to interface with greater authority on aspects of their own culture,” Harris noted.
Among the courses already on offer: Kumina Drumming with Kevan Douglas, The Art of Gourd Banjo Making with Jeff Menzies, Talkin Bob Marley with Fabian Thomas, Reggae Rudiments with Gerd Beyens and Coaching 1:1 with founder Michael Sean Harris. When questioned how the courses are determined, he pointed out that the culture determines that. “I’m beginning with musical aspects – for musicians as well as from a sociological perspective. This included folk and popular forms. They will also include language and dance, art, spirituality and wellness and more. The courses should cover history, popular culture, current trending techniques and ideas and philosophy,” Harris stated.
While the portal is still in its infancy stage, the founder and conceptualizer has big dreams for Reggae On-Line over the coming years. “I would love to see some kind of accreditation of the courses with possible degrees and partnerships with colleges and universities. I also see cultural tourism to Jamaica with various cohorts of the courses coming to Jamaica for intensive cultural immersion and workshops,” Harris remarked.
His vision also includes establishing partnerships and collaborations with colleges and other associations as we build and grow. “We are looking forward to building a vibrant online community of like-minded persons and eventually having these people meet in webinars, workshops, festivals and tours. The time feels right.”
To find out more about the courses or to sign up go to: https://www.reggae-on-line.