The initiative is spearheaded by Anthony “Chips” Richards, whose involvement in marketing and promotion of reggae in the United Kingdom began nearly five decades ago. He made his mark with Trojan Records, helping to promote major hit songs like Ken Boothe’s Everything I Own which topped the UK national chart in 1974. For his efforts, Richards was among last year’s recipients of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation.
Richards, who is partnering with the National Library, made the announcement during last Friday’s Reggae Films in The Park at Emancipation Park in St Andrew. The event is part of activities commemorating Reggae Month.
According to him, this catalogue is of critical importance considering the role artistes like Millie Small and Desmond Dekker played in advancing Jamaica’s music in that market.
“It’s a difficult task but we are getting there, our history should be preserved for the oncoming generations. A lot of the people who participated have passed and gone, and those who participated in the early days are going very, very fast, so the work we’re doing is very important,” Richards told the gathering at Emancipation Park.
Last Friday’s final Reggae Films in The Park saw the local première of Rudeboy : The Story of Trojan Records, which shared the history of the record label that helped introduce Jamaican music to Britain, as well as Coelcuirt Jamaica – a musical travel documentary by an Irish television company. The latter features Freddie McGregor, Alpha Boys Band, the Jolly Boys mento band, Maroon Chieftainess Sister Gloria and poet Mutabaruka.
The catalogue of reggae artistes from the UK would join a proposed reggae film archives as two new collections being established at the National Library.
National librarian Beverly Lashley noted that the recent UNESCO inscription of reggae as an intangible cultural heritage highlights and underscores the power Jamaican music has on the world.
“At the National Library of Jamaica we have a mandate of preserving and promoting Jamaica’s cultural heritage. The library is now positioned to develop a portal which will showcase a digital reggae film archive. The creation of such an archive will improve our ability to safeguard these important films which document Jamaica’s rich musical history. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the National Library and so we are encouraging all the relevant stakeholders to participate in the activities that are planned,” said Lashley.
Source: Giving British reggae its due