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Sheree-Anita Shearer | Associate Writer
Who is the father of Reggae? A few names come up when this topic is brought up. Bob Marley, Toots Hibbert and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry are just a few. But why are each of these persons considered the father of Reggae music?
Toots Hibbert, the front-runner for the award-winning band, Toots and the Maytals, is known as one of the leaders of Reggae music. He is also credited for coining the term “Reggae” for the then-emerging genre from Jamaica when he and his released the 1968 hit, "Do the Reggay.”
His impressive career as a Jamaican Reggae musician spans 6 decades and these years of dedication helped lay the foundation of the genre.
Toots is the voice behind many classic Reggae songs, including "Monkey Man, "Pressure Drop", “Bam Bam” and “54-46 That’s My Number”. The cover of Take Me Home Country Road, by the band is also incredibly popular.
The three original members of the Maytals were Toots, along with, Henry “Raliegh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” Matthias. However, as the band grew, they added other instrumentalists and the band became Toots and the Maytals. Musicians Hux Brown,
Harold Butler, Michelle Eugene, Winston Wright, Winston Grennan, Andy Bassford and Leba Thomas were all members of the band at some point.
Today, the three original members have passed on leaving Paul Douglas
Radcliffe "Dougie" Bryan, Jackie Jackson, Carl Harvey, Marie "Twiggi" Gitten, Stephen Stewart and Charles Farquarson to carry on the legacy of The Maytals.
Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Toots # 71 on their 2010 Greatest Singers of All Time list and in 2012, Jamaica bestowed the 5th Highest Award on him, the Order of Jamaica, for his contribution to Reggae music.
Scratch Perry is arguably the creator of Reggae music and undoubtedly the creator of Dub, went through the music ranks from being an apprentice of Coxonne Dodd to having his own studio and being a revered Reggae musician. He is known for using unconventional sounds in his music, for example, the sound of a crying baby which was used in People Funny Boy. This is believed to have championed musicians experimenting with their sounds, giving music the diversity we now appreciate. But this was not the only important thing about this song.
This is widely believed to be the first Reggae song as it was the first song recorded with a loping beat with much emphasis on the bass. It was an obvious shift from the music of the time which was quite upbeat and fast-paced.
Scratch though eccentric, was hailed for his stellar musical abilities which included production credit. One would argue that his unconventionality added extra layers of uniqueness to his music which the genre as a whole benefited greatly from.
Perry has been lauded by local musicians and international stars for his contributions to music. The country of Jamaica awarded Perry the Order of Distinction, Commander class.
I am sure many people consider Reggae legend Bob Marley as the father of the genre and there would be little trouble finding evidence of this as the icon achieved much in awards and popularity during his short but impactful life as a musician, one that Jamaica and Reggae music benefits from even today.
While Bob may not have been the first Reggae musician, his contributions put Jamaica and Reggae music on the main stage. For many, their introduction to all things Jamaica, including our vast collection of art and artistes, was through Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Songs like Get Up, Stand Up, Jamming, Redemption Song, Could You Be Loved, Buffalo Soldier, I Shot The Sheriff and the most popular of all One Love, which was voted song of the century by Time Magazine were all sung by Bob Marley.
Many of Bob’s accolades were awarded after his untimely passing. He posthumously received the Order of Merit, the third highest honour in Jamaica. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Exodus was named album of the century.
The artiste received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. He was ranked #11 on the Rolling Stone list of Greatest Singers of All Time and inducted into the UK Music Hall of Fame in 2004.
There isn’t one person we can say definitively is the father of Reggae, these three men, in particular, have devoted much of their careers to further the reach of the genre across the globe thus making them all fathers in their own right.
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Who Is The Father Of Reggae? | Written: February 21, 2023