Kingston, August 8 – The Honourable Olivia Grange, Minister of Culture, Gender Entertainment and Sport has said that this year’s Festival Grand Gala “represented more than anything else, the movement of our people and our music through history up to this point.”
Speaking in an interview at the Gala at the National Stadium last night, Minister Grange said that, “We took the journey from the original Jamaicans, the Tainos, through enslavement of our African ancestors through to Emancipation to the Indians being brought in as indentured labourers and then we moved into the Chinese who came to Jamaica and enriched our country with their culture.
“We are country of diverse culture and a special people.
“Out of many we became one and in 2018, we are celebrating Jamaica 56 – One, Love One Family. So this year’s Grand Gala is not just about the great performances, there is a message in the movement, there is a message in the music, there is a message in the song.”
She said that the dancers who performed at the Grand Gala were drawn from young people in 20 communities in St. Andrew and St, Catherine and were coached through various workshops in movements representing the history of the Jamaican people.
With regards to the music, Minister Grange said Ska has been singled out for special recognition this year. “Ska is the first of Jamaica’s popular music form that was exposed internationally. Ska has become one of the biggest genres in the world especially in Europe. And so we are honouring Ska exponents, Strangah Cole and Richie Stephens.”
She said that Strangah Cole was one of the pioneers of Ska and that Richie Stephens, in the next generation, took Ska to another level.
The Minister said the group Ska-nation from Italy had been specially invited to be on the show with Richie Stephens.
Miss Grange said that the other honoree, Damian Junior Gong Marley, took the music of his father, Bob, and launched it into Dance Hall as a deejay.
“Jamaica 56 is special”, the Minister said, “and you should know that half the crowd was outside as was in the Stadium. We had to put up a big screen in the National Arena to accommodate them.”
She said there was the Western Grand Gala and other Festival activities, including street dances, taking place.