1720. Blue Mountains, windward Jamaica. In the sweltering heat Captain Shettlewood leads a troop of British soldiers through the thick trees towards the river. They are hunting slaves who have escaped from the brutal plantations. Their mission: to find them, and kill them. But up ahead, hidden among the rocks above the water, a group of men with cutlasses and muskets wait patiently for the instructions of their leader.

Queen Nanny is a ‘wise woman’ with a reputation for ancient obeah magic, and a guerilla fighter with a genius … More

The Colony of Jamaica gained independence from the United Kingdom on 6 August 1962. In Jamaica, this date is celebrated as Independence Day, a national holiday. Having dominated the rock steady era, Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid was searching for a way to build upon his standing as one of Jamaica’s premiere record producers following the arrival of the new reggae sound towards the close of the Sixties. By releasing Gay Jamaica Independence Time he proved that he still released high-quality tracks.

Some of the most talented musicians from that period are featured on this record, like U-Roy, The Ethiopians, Alton Ellis, … More

Orange Street has a mystical place in Reggae’s history. Set in the heart of downtown Kingston, Jamaica. Even to this day it stands somehow locked in time & space. The beat of the music ever changing & evolving. As politics, religion even the weather effect its course one thing remains a constant, Orange Street is central to the islands musical story. The Ska era of Jamaica’s sound time has told us can be dated from around 1962 to late 1966. The instigators being the big three producers of this period, Clement Coxonne Dodd, Prince Buster & Duke Reid.

The Rocksteady sound which ran a shorter more intense race between 1966 to 1968 would be Duke Reid’s to command.. … More

Possibly the definitive fictional account of the experiences of the Empire Windrush generation, it was recently selected by the BBC as one of its ‘100 Novels That Shaped Our World’. It is 1948, and England is recovering from a war. But at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Queenie Bligh’s neighbours do not approve when she agrees to take in Jamaican lodgers, but Queenie doesn’t know when her husband will return, or if he will come back at all..

What else can she do? Gilbert Joseph was one of the several thousand Jamaican men who joined the RAF to … More

Born OTD in 1932, Jamaican-born British Marxist sociologist, cultural theorist & political activist, Stuart Hall. ‘Sometimes I feel I was the last colonial’ This is the story, in his own words, of the extraordinary life of Stuart Hall: writer, thinker & one of the leading intellectual lights of his age. Growing up in a middle-class family in 1930s Jamaica, then still a British colony, Hall found himself caught between two worlds: the stiflingly respectable middle class in Kingston, who, in their habits & ambitions, measured themselves against the white planter elite; & working-class & peasant Jamaica, neglected & grindingly poor, though rich in culture, music and history.

But as colonial rule was challenged, things began to change in Jamaica and across the world. When, in 1951, a … More

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.

Available in store and online.

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