Don Letts reveals how the Rastafari movement helped Jamaica recover a lost identity after years of British colonial rule and had a profound effect on Jamaican music, culminating in one of the most exciting periods in roots reggae.
At one time Jamaica was a place of feel-good sunshine vibes but as grinding poverty, high crime rates and violence hit the island in the 1970s, the music became darker and introspective. It provided a voice for the poor and the oppressed and became a global phenomenon in the process.
We all know Bob Marley as the world's most famous Rastafarian but his story is well documented and often overshadows a wealth of talent from a golden period of roots reggae music. This is the story of other Rastafarian artists and bands like Burning Spear, Max Romeo, Johnnie Clarke, Little Roy, Lee "Scratch" Perry, Big Youth, The Mighty Diamonds, Black Uhuru and Culture. And the documentary also covers how the Roots and Rasta message found its way to the UK, spawning British based reggae bands like Steel Pulse and Matumbi.
The documentary first broadcast in 2007 and features interviews with reggae legends such as Max Romeo, Johnny Clarke, Stephen Marley, The Abyssinians, The Mighty Diamonds, Steel Pulse, Matumbi, Rankin' Miss P, Rico Rodriguez, Tappa Zukie and Luciano. It is scheduled ahead of Radio 2's new ten-part reggae series, presented by David Rodigan, which will broadcast Thursday nights at 11pm.
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