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Facts About Jamaican Music History

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  1. Millicent Dolly May Small, popularly known as Millie Small was the first Jamaican singer to expose Jamaican popular music on the international scene with a song which became the first million-selling Jamaican song. Her rendition of “My Boy Lollipop” became the first Jamaican song to make it on the British and American music charts reaching number one in Britain and number two in the United States in 1964.


  1. Around 1966 or 1967, Neville Willoughby took Johnny Nash to a Rastafarian party where Bob Marley & The Wailing Wailers were performing. Members Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, and Rita Marley introduced Nash to the local music scene. Nash signed all four to an exclusive publishing contract with Cayman Music for J$50 a week.


  1. Stanley Motta was an electronics store proprietor who established a record label in Kingston, Jamaica and opened the first privately owned recording studio in Jamaica in 1951, jump starting Jamaica’s music industry.


  1. Lord Fly (Rupert Lyon) recorded with Motta in 1952. Early band members who recorded include Bertie Kingon clarinet and Mapletoft Poulle whose big band employed many early ska musicians and Alpha Boys School Other artists Motta recorded include Count Lasher, Monty Reynolds, tenor banjo player Eddie Brown of the Calypso Clippers, Alerth Bedasse of Chin’s Calypso Sextet, Jellicoe Barker (Lord Jellicoe), Lord Composer, Lord Lebby, Lord Messam, Lord Power and Lord Melody. Roland Alphonso, Derrick Harriott, Lord Messam & His Calypsonians, Lord Tanamo, Claude Sang Jr. and his brother Herman Sang of The Jiving Juniors and Theophilus Beckford also worked with Motta. Count Lasher released his debut album with Motta.


  1. The first ever ska recording was made by Count Ossie, a Nyabhingi drummer from the rasta community.


  1. Winston Cooper (c.1939–1995), better known as Count Matchuki or Count Machuki, was the first Jamaican deejay. He thus originated a deejay style that was later developed by artists such as U-Roy, and which eventually led to rap.  He has also been credited as the originator of beatboxing, adding what he called “peps” to records that he thought sounded weak. In the late 1950s, the prevailing sound changed with the advent of ska, and Matchuki added his deejay skills (often uncredited) to several records by The Skatalites.


  1. Don Drummond became a household name in Jamaica, before suffering mental problems. He was rated by pianist George Shearing to be among the world’s top five trombone players.


  1. Kenneth Lloyd “Ken” Khouri was a pioneering Jamaican record producer and owner of Federal Records, the first recording studio in Jamaica, which was sold to Bob Marley’s Tuff Gong record label in 1981. He is credited by reggae historians for the birth of rocksteady in the 1960s. Rocksteady later mixed with Jamaican mento, a genre in which Khouri also had a pioneering role, leading to the creation of reggae music.
  2. Khouri signed American singer Johnny Nash to record Jamaican music, producing his first international hit “Hold Me Tight”, which went on to sell six million copies globally and has been credited with first putting reggae in the American listener charts
  3. Louise Bennett-Coverley is credited with giving Harry Belafonte the foundation for his 1956 hit “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)” by telling him about the Jamaican folk song “Hill and Gully Rider” (the name also given as “Day Dah Light”).



Feel free to read as much information as you can. Jamaica has a very long and interesting history.


Blessings in abundance!


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