by Sista Irie, Austin, Texas
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the dark of destructive selfishness.” – Martin Luther King
Creative altruism is a practice of selfless concern benefiting and enhancing the well being of others. In 1994, Rebel Salute took a risk by celebrating Tony Rebel’s birthday in an effort to empower humanity through musical consciousness and Rasta livity. One might say Rebel Salute was an earlier version of a Reggae Revival since Tony Rebel and Garnet Silk’s presence in the reggae music industry jumpstarted a turnaround from a dull, lifeless, dancehall culture into a rich legacy of African based pride and consciousness. As a result, reggae and Rasta sustained recognition as an integral part of Jamaica’s cultural heritage. Rebel Salute was able to re-establish a social activist mentality and a musical rebirth through the vision and mission of a finely tuned reggae festival. Twenty-two years later, REBEL SALUTE has grown significantly, inspiring writers, photographers, fans and artists from many nations to travel from all corners of the globe to witness JAMAICAN MUSICAL CULTURE in it’s finest and most professional setting, the real Jamaica.
Ironically, the rest of the world is already enamored with Jamaican culture to the point of imitation and integration into international cultures. Jamaica has not fully opened it’s eyes or ears to this established reality of world appreciation; nor has it capitalized in a manner to introduce expanded financial stability, increased artistic opportunities, reduced crime rates, and enhanced national pride and acknowledgement. Rebel Salute is a clear demonstration of the power of the music and with it’s success and maturity, this festival can be a pivotal opportunity to sharpen focus and expand economic viability for a nation sorely in need. Wake Up politicians, wake up and let the people live!
Rebel Salute, 2016 was rich with roots and culture. As a media person traveling to the festival for the 12th year, I gain substantially from the educational nuances of the reggae messages and firmly root myself into the fullness and legacy of Jamaican music.
Vintage singers and bands such as the Nyahbinghi Rasta Indigenous Village, the Congos, Abyssinians, Heptones and Viceroys set the mood around the historical root from which all following music emerged.
These legendary forefathers must be proud to observe emerging youth such as Uprising Roots Band, Earthkry, Ruckus, Kabaka Pyramid, Melissa, Khalilah Rose, Nadia McAnuff and Davianah shining a new path of educational and socially conscious music imbibed in historical culture.
Rebel Salute is powerful.
The touching performance of Andrew and Andre Tosh brought tears to my eyes. The continuing introduction of the offspring of reggae legends has contributed greatly to the advancement and inspiration of today’s reggae industry.
Beres Hammond ignited a vocally animated crowd merely by walking on stage. After a long and welcomed sentimental journey of top hits, I once again filled with tears as he brought the ‘Queen of Reggae,’ Marcia Griffiths onstage for an impressive duet of “Live On”. There is no doubt that the performance by Beres was the most critically acclaimed of both nights.
Rounding out other tremendously popular performances was Queen Africa, Anthony Cruz, I Octane, Turbulence, Chezidek, Bugle, Louie Culture, Nesbeth, and of course, David Brooks (Mavado). There are many more performers I will mention in my follow up article in Island Stage Magazine so don’t miss the issue coming out for March/April.
Towards the end of the second night, just as David Brooks ended his invigorated set, Mutabaruka, asked the crowd who they wanted to see next. The response was loud and overwhelming….”MAVADO” they cheered. Muta say…”whe oonu say?” The fans responded that they just heard David Brooks, now they want Mavado!
In life, it is important to know some risks eventually become community standards. The decriminalization of herb in Jamaica is a giant step prophesied by reggae’s most militant musical stalwart, Peter Tosh. This year may also see the realization of the Peter Tosh Museum in Kingston. Jamaica has now extended a ganja exemption to two events including Rebel Salute. Tony Rebel remains on the cutting edge of change ensuring the Rasta community benefits in terms of religious freedom while introducing the educational and medicinal aspects of ganja within a new area in the festival referred to as Herb Curb.
Big heartfelt thanks to Tony Rebel, Jahyudah Barrett, Kenya Barrett, Kerise Wright, Ryan, Mr. Andrews and all of the Rebel Salute crew working so hard for so long to create one of the greatest shows on Earth.