The Diaspora comes back to Jamaica for the holiday season; no question. Inclusive parties abound; we all get our fill of jerk chicken, oxtail, Manish Wata, and patties. Some of us traverse across the island to Mandeville, Ochi, Portland, and anywhere in between. There are concerts in Emancipation park and even on the Prime Minister’s lawn if it’s organized by Shaggy & Friends. Keenly Jamaican is the intergenerational nature of these concerts: from Third World to Chronixx and Barrington Levy to Dexta Daps. Grandmas and granddaughters can sing along to Chaka Demus & Pliers’ Murder She Wrote.
On January 7th, Shaggy organized a charity concert for his foundation, which featured Sting, Barrington Levy, Capelton, Wayne Wonder, and several others. We stood mashin’ it up on the Prime Minister’s lawn until 3:30am when they told us we must leave. Capelton, the Fire Man himself, closed out an amazing show of Jamaican legends and newcomers. It is a uniquely and wonderfully Jamaican cultural reality to have so many generations of amazing music in one concert where everyone – young and old – can sing the words of songs by Professor Nuts, a pioneer of Jamaican dancehall.
On the last day of 2017 we went to a performance at the National Gallery in Kingston by Nexus Performing Arts Company. It was mesmerizing, amazing, and well curated. The group led us on a tour of some of the seminal works in the gallery’s current exhibition and performed songs that touched on some of the themes of the art. Themes like identity, gender, history, the future of Jamaica, and so much more. They performed moving gospel songs and well-known traditional Jamaican songs. They acted out scenes, danced, and harmonized exquisitely. It was indeed a performance to behold and an excellent way to end the year.
We welcomed the New Year well in Jamaica and it is always so full to come back home. Below is a video (or vlog, if you will) that shows what Jamaica during the holidays is to me. It is refreshing, busy, filled with music, nature, and family.