Describe the essential role music has always played in the lives of the Jamaican people.
As a universal unifier, music not only has helped unite Jamaica culturally and spiritually, but it has indeed defined their unique cultural traits and it has also given Jamaicans a voice, particularly through the genre of Reggae. Barrow and Dalton (1997) are some of the main researchers on the folk-tale style Jamaican tradition of passing down songs from one generation to another in a manner which very much resembles that of the African slave culture that is historically recorded as sending out messages and lamentations through song.
In their study of music under a sociocultural perspective, Barrow and Dalton agree in that music has served as a marker of identity particularly among the Jamaican poor and the socially-limited which, unfortunately, constitute the majority in the overall Jamaican population. Hence, the transfer of culture through song is mainly an inherited tradition that binds together a social group that feels subjugated and abused by a powerful faction.
Reggae music ultimately gave Jamaicans the voice to express their emotions in a more radical and descriptive way. First officially recorded in the 1960's , Reggae is a relatively young genre when we consider the influence and deep impression that it has caused since its first formal appearance.
King et all (2002) describes Jamaican music as a mirror of the compilation of historical events that rendered Jamaica a victim of a number of colonial governments. With the advent of new invaders, Jamaicans were pushed down within their own society, being used as slaves in their own land. It was not until the third decade of the 20th century that Jamaicans began to regain some power over their own land and government, causing the never-ending reaffirmation of identity that is the topic of so many Reggae songs.
Therefore, from its African and colonial roots, up until now, music has been the undeniable unifier of the Jamaican community.