When Colin Grant was growing up in Luton in the 1960s, he learned not to ask his Jamaican parents why they had emigrated to Britain. ‘We’re here because we’re here,’ his father would say. ‘You have some place else to go?’ But now, 70 years after the arrival of ships such as the Windrush, this generation of pioneers are ready to tell their stories. Homecoming draws on over a 100 first-hand interviews, archival recordings and memoirs by the women and men who came to Britain from the West Indies between the late 1940s and the early 1960s.

In their own words, we witness the transition from the optimism of the first post-war arrivals to the race riots … More

Born OTD in 1947, rocksteady singer, arranger, and radio presenter, Hopeton Lewis. “Hopeton Lewis’ classic tune, ‘Take It Easy’, is credited with being the first to employ the rocksteady rhythm in 1966. The song featured Lynn Taitt on guitar and his band the Jets on backup”.

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

Born OTD in 1887, Jamaican-born political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator, Marcus Garvey. Marcus Garvey was one of the greatest black leaders of the 20th century. His is a story of a man who launched an idea on the tide and created a flood in the worldwide development of black political consciousness. As the leader of America’s first mass political movement of black people, Gerbey’s achievements were both enormous in their scale and long-lasting in their effects. This is an in-depth biography and history of this great man who envisaged so much and inspired so many.

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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

Born OTD in 1938, Jamaican singer-songwriter and producer, Cecil Bustamente Campbell, AKA Prince Buster. Campbell became more actively involved in the operational side of running a sound system after he was introduced to Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd, a musically inclined businessman who operated one of Kingston’s most popular sound systems. Campbell found himself fulfilling a variety of roles for Coxsone: providing security, handling ticket receipts, identifying & sourcing music as well as working in the essential role of selector. The knowledge he gained about the financial & logistical aspects of staging a sound system dance was put to good use when Campbell made the decision to start his own sound system called ‘Voice of the People’

Mind-boggling discography devoted to the Jamaican releases of Prince Buster’s productions from 1961’s Oh Carolina by the Folkes Brothers to … More

Born OTD in 1943, saxaphonist with The Soul Vendors, (AKA Soul Dimension), & The Skatalites, Cedric “Im” Brooks. Brooks became a pupil at the renowned Alpha Boys School aged 11, where he learned music theory and clarinet. In his late teens he took up tenor saxophone and flute.

One of the most intriguing, eccentric and original musicians to emerge from reggae is Cedric ‘I’M’ Brooks, the tenor saxophonist … More

Born OTD in 1949, American soul and jazz poet, musician, & spoken-word performer, Gil Scott-Heron. This is a story about talented but tortured souls and a fractured father & son relationship that kept apart Gillie Heron, who was once hailed by ’50k supporters..as the greatest thing seen at Celtic Park since goalposts arrived’. And Gil Scott-Heron, who a newspaper in 1975 said was ‘one of the most interesting new leaders of the black cause today’.

Available in store and online.  

Born OTD in 1940, Jamaican artist popular for rhythm & blues, ska rocksteady and skinhead reggae, Derrick Morgan. “When singers making songs like the one Derrick Morgan made that went [sings] ‘Rudie don’t fear no boy / rudie don’t fear’, it was because that rude-boy fearlessness was seen as an act of defiance” Jimmy Cliff.

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

Born OTD in 1948, Jamaican vocalist known for his distinctive vibrato and timbre, Ken Boothe. Boothe’s first solo tracks were recorded in 1966 after Clement “Coxsone” Dodd had signed him to his Studio One Label. He also recorded material for Phil Pratt and Sonia Pottinger the same year. He had almost immediate success with songs including “The Train Is Coming” (on which he was backed by the Wailers), the first, ska version, of later reggae song You’re No Good with the Soulettes.

With a blizzard of individual labels and a marketing strategy that involved selling product out of the backs of vans, … More

Born OTD in 1936, Jamaican music producer and inventor noted for his innovative studio techniques and production style, Lee ‘Sratch’ Perry. With more than 1,000 releases to Lee “Scratch” Perry’s name in some form or other, there is a wealth of material for fans and collectors to immerse themselves in, and here is the essential reference; an extensive, detailed, heavily illustrated guide to the records produced by Perry and those that hailed from his legendary Black Ark Studio

Innovator, genius, forward thinker, and trendsetter; there are few individuals who have stamped quite as unique a footprint onto the … More