Born OTD in 1945, Jamaican singer-songwriter who became an international musical & cultural icon, Robert Nesta Marley. Blending mostly reggae, ska, & rocksteady in his compositions. Marley started in 1963 with the group The Wailers & forged a distinctive songwriting & vocal style that became popular with audiences worldwide. The Wailers released some of the earliest reggae records with producer Lee “Scratch” Perry.

Diagnosed with a type of malignant melanoma in 1977, Marley died on the 11 May 1981 in Miami at the … More

Born OTD in 1936, Lester Sterling, AKA Lester “Ska” Sterling. Like many Jamaican musicians of his generation, Sterling attended the Alpha Boys School. Originally a trumpeter, he is predominantly known as a player of alto saxophone. Sterling is a founding member of The Skatalites. After The Skatalites originally disbanded in 1965, Sterling played with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires and recorded several solo singles for the London-based producer “Sir” Clancy Collins.

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass … More

Born OTD in 1942, American professional boxer, activist, & philanthropist, Muhammad Ali. When Ali died, many mourned the life of the greatest sportsman the world had ever seen. In Redemption Song, Marqusee argues that Ali was not just a boxer but a remarkable political figure in a decade of tumultuous change. Playful, popular, always confrontational, Ali refashioned the role of a political activist & was central, alongside figures such as Malcolm X and MLK, to the black liberation & the anti-war movements.

The stunning new edition of Redemption Song by Mike Marqusee, includes a foreword by political sportswriter Dave Zirin. “One of … More

Born OTD in 1931, saxophonist and founding member of The Skatalites, Roland Alphonso. “..Coxsone maintains that his first-ever commercially minded session, with a band led by saxophone colossus Roland Alphonso, disappeared somewhere between the mastering rooms in New York and Kingston harbour”.

The first major account of the history of reggae, black music journalist Lloyd Bradley describes its origins and development in … More

Otis Redding remains a living presence in the canon of American popular music on the strength of such classic hits… As a singer, songwriter, bandleader, and arranger, Redding was the chief architect of the distinctly southern, gospel-inflected style of rhythm & blues associated with Stax Records in Memphis…

Yet, while Redding’s music has long served as the gold standard of 1960s soul, an aura of myth and mystery … More

Activist, teacher, author and icon of the Black Power movement Angela Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world. In these newly collected essays, interviews and speeches, world-renowned activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis illuminates the connections between struggles against state violence and oppression throughout history and around the world.

Reflecting on the importance of black feminism, intersectionality and prison abolitionism for today’s struggles, Davis discusses the legacies of previous … More

Born OTD in 1901, Cyril Lionel Robert James, was a Trinidadian historian, journalist, socialist & widely known as a writer on cricket. His works are influential in various theoretical, social, and historiographical contexts. His work is a staple of subaltern studies, and he figures as a pioneering and influential voice in postcolonial literature.

C.L.R. James is one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable individuals. As the author of the influential book The Black … More

Born OTD in 1936, Jamaican pianist, Theophilus Beckford. “..Ellis further compounds what many have claimed was the turning point, when a slightly wonky shuffle beat became highlighted within the traditional 12-bar blues structure, paving the way for ska. The guy really start that off-beat thing, Theophilus Beckford.”

Behind Jamaica’s musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns and a brass … More

Born OTD in 1928, Lennie Hibbert. A Jamaican musician who was bandmaster at the Alpha Boy’s School. Lennie worked as a live musician in jazz groups in the 1960s, and frequently worked with the Sound Dimension band, recording some of the best-known riddims for Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.

In 1976 Lennie was awarded the Order of Distinction (O.D.) for his contribution to music on the island and for … More

When Jamaica became independent on August 6, 1962, ska music was playing in yards, dancehalls, and in recording studios as this new nation celebrated. It was a spirited music, full of promise, optimism, and energy and it was the perfect sound to showcase to the world. Now that Jamaica was independent, what better way to demonstrate the culture, beauty, and art of Jamaica than through ska, both as a music and as a dance. The Jamaican government, tourist and business industry, and newly developing music industry made it their mission to bring Jamaican music to the world, through events they termed Operation Jump Up. This is the story of that effort and how, for a brief time, ska rivaled the Beatles and the Twist.

Operation Jump Up is the culmination of four years of research. The detailed historical narrative features dozens of interviews with … More