Jamaica’s Attachment to Foreign Music


Jamaicans have always deeply appreciated the music from foreign soils. This is one of the reasons why that numerous acts have been thrilled to see the reception of their music when they were brought in to perform at local shows such as the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival. Michael Barnett, music aficionado said that this appreciation has originated from the 1940s and has become an entrenched tradition. He said that back then, there weren’t any local radio stations so people would choose stations from the South such as Alabama, Louisiana etc. Mr. Barnett said that even with the advent of ZQI, Jamaica’s first radio station, the affinity didn’t stop.

Therefore, an appreciation of music has been instilled in the successive generations through the years. He explained that parents would purchase albums of their favorites and play them at home so the children were introduced to different tracks. He asserted that Jamaicans were more knowledgeable about foreign music than they were about local music. If you asked any Jamaican, they could not provide as much information on a local artist as they could on Mariah Carey’s catalogue. From 29th to 31st January, the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival will be conducted at the Trelawny Multi-purpose stadium.

Various foreign acts are expected to perform there including Charlie Wilson, Mariah Carey, the Pointer Sisters and Peter Cetera. In the past years, some of the greats of pop, jazz, blues and R&B have been hosted by this festival including Air Supply, Billy Ocean, Al Green, Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, Dionne Warwick, Mary J Bilge, Kenny Rogers, Kenny G, Gladys Knight and Al Jarreau. Along with Keith Brown, his business partner, Barnett promoted the Startime series of the vintage music shows and is currently working at a radio station called Kool FM as a disc jockey.

In his opinion, the attachment and attraction of Jamaicans to foreign music is both good and bad. He stated that before listening to foreign music, people should listen to local music. Nonetheless, he added that Jamaicans have always been diverse in their taste and the quality of foreign music is also the reason why the songs have a pull there.

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