It is difficult to find a written history of reggae music because Jamaicans are renowned for their rich oral history. The written word is mistrusted because of “written in stone” mentality of colonialism and manipulation, indoctrination and inhumanity that this ultimately creates.
In the fifties, colonialism was winding up business in Jamaica. Unlike the French, the English left their infrastructure behind. American radio was seeping into the society around this time and Jamaican indigenous music fused with the American big band, rhythm and blues and Jazz, hit the British and American music scene like a bomb.
This was the swinging sixties. A spirit that endured slavery, colonialism and to this day some of the grimmest conditions, both social and economic, in the world, gave birth to ska. It was like everyone was waiting for something to happen with colonialism ending and Independence beginning.
Ska did not take off in America as much as in Britain where there were more Jamaicans to support and promote it. It developed to become one of Jamaica’s authentic musical genres. A group of musicians in Jamaica get together and start playing. We play in bands in the clubs and hotels where we play stock arrangements of well-known songs that the band leader would bring, usually from America, printed on sheet music or we play jazz.
We go on like that for a while but then say we want to make soul music for ourselves, our own music, so out of that same jazz we change the style of the rhythm by having the guitar play that chuck, chuck chuck, and the drums play that downbeat instead of the upbeat he would play in jazz.
So you could say Reggae music originated in Jamaica with ska and then developed into many sub genres like Lovers Rock, Rock Steady, Roots and culture, dub, raggamuffin and dancehall. It is a music for the people and carries the heartbeat rhythmn and powerful intelligent lyrics about life, love, and love lost. Discover or rediscover the roots of reggae and its heart beat rhythmns for the healing of the nations and the human heart. Today every country has its own version of reggae sound from Germany to Japan, Israel to India and Hawaii to Brazil.