Making case for reggae up north

Entertainment

Making case for reggae up north

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Monday, March 23, 2020

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A new organisation of reggae players in Canada have made gaining greater acceptance of the music in that country, its main objective.

Reggae North, which formed in January, comprises artistes, musicians, producers and music enthusiasts. Most of them are based in Toronto, which has long been reggae's traditional base in Canada.

“Reggae North's objective is to increase awareness of artistes and their craft by showcasing the vast, but sometimes untapped talents that are based in Canada. This is accomplished through interaction and engagement with the millions of reggae lovers in Canada and across the globe. Reggae North utilises most of the available platforms on social media and otherwise to bring their music to the people,” said spokesperson Tony Anthony.

Anthony is one of Canada's best-known reggae acts. He has lived in Toronto for more than 25 years, recording several well-received albums and singles.

He told the Jamaica Observer that though there is enthusiastic response to Reggae North from the Canadian reggae community, he and his colleagues are in no rush to expand their membership.

“We have already gotten quite a few requests for membership. However, we presently have a 14-member core group who are together working out the kinks before we start accepting new people,” he said. “We work and make decisions as a collective, but presently I am the representative for most matters concerning Reggae North.”

Other members of Reggae North include Captain Love, Lazah Current, Dorrett Delores, Osborne “Ifield” Joseph, Tony Anthony, Tonya P, Comfort, and Mmpress Minott.

Though it gained Juno Award (Canada's Grammy Award) status in 1985, reggae is still not a staple on Canadian pop radio. Jamaican-owned, Toronto-based stations like G98.7 FM play the bulk of reggae.

According to Anthony, the playlists of the leading Canadian stations are similar in terms of reggae acts who get played.

“Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Sean Paul, Shaggy, Maxi Priest and, more recently, Koffee are the few artistes you will hear on mainstream radio here, occasionally. It has been this way for as long as I migrated here,” he said. “However, the addition of G98.7, the only black-owned radio station in Canada, has given reggae a greater mainstream life here. Reggae artists based here, however, still believe they are not playing enough home-made music.”

Fitzroy Gordon, a key figure in the Jamaican Toronto community for 40 years, launched G98.7 in 2011 and gave reggae adequate exposure. Gordon died in 2019.


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