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'Rebel Salute celebrates the wholesome side of Reggae'

REIGNING THE SCENE: Queen Ifrica says the annual Rebel Salute event is more important than ever

I HAD been trying to find the Queen for a few days but without success. However, it is the beginning of the year, and that means time for the annual Rebel Salute, so it’s more than likely that the Queen in question can be excused as I know this is a frantic time for her.

This is a two-day event that celebrates the wholesome side of Reggae and Dancehall - no profanity, no slackness no alcohol and no meat on sale are just some of the “No No’s” over the days in St Ann, Jamaica.

Having experienced this event a few years ago at the Plantation Cove, this is the perfect way to start the calendar if you love live music. There is something special about Rebel Salute as spiritually it seems the patrons that attend are there for something a little deeper for their meditation. Right or wrong, there is something magical about listening to reggae outdoors with the sea breeze circulating the small of Marijuana wafting unapologetically in the atmosphere.

It was last week Sunday morning that I finally managed to catch up with Queen Ifrica, as she and the team was going through the final logistics for the reggae festival which holds the slogan “The Preservation Of Reggae”

“We are in the office as we speak”, she tells me down the phone, with a notable buzz of activity going on behind her. “We are just making sure all the final pieces are in place – hotels are booked, flights are in place and the staging and systems are understood by all.”

Although she is busy, there is a confident air of calm in her tone. It’s reassuring to see this level of assurance from a big festival organiser, especially at the start of the year.

“For us, the planning started twelve months ago. As soon as 2018’s outing had ended, we started working on this years one. This is a major undertaking, so we have to make sure we give ourselves the best possible chance to get it right.”

The event started in 1992 to celebrate Tony Rebel’s birthday (15th Jan), and it reflected the way he lived (and continues) to live his life. Twenty Seven years on it has now grown into an international festival, attracting patrons from across the world.

“It’s hard to describe the typical person who comes to Salute, because we have seen such a growth and change in who you may expect to come to the event – everyone seems to attend – from Grandmas to babies, lawyers, pastors – everyone! You want to put on your red, gold and green and everyone comes to be a Rasta for two days”, she exclaims!

One of the great things about Rebel Salute is the platform that it gives to artists who can easily be pigeon holed, and allows them to show another side of their craft. It’s a situation that has been crafted by the team.

“We give Bounty Killer the chance to showcase Rodney Pryce, Popcaan can be Andre Sutherland and Chi Ching Ching can be Radion Beckford! Some of these artists have been tainted and typecast as negative, but we give them a chance to show that this isn’t the case. When Mavado came as David Brooks, people were in awe that his whole set didn’t include one girl song! People didn’t realise he could do that.”

Preach!

The timing of the message and the event couldn’t be better. With so much negativity and separation in the world, the overriding vibration of unity is much needed. Ifrica recently put up a social media post highlighting the way in which Jay Z and DJ Khaled – two very prominent first world artists – have adapted and taken on Jamaican style, and elements of Jamaican culture. However, she was surprised by the mixed reaction that post got.

“Jamaican men are not bad – there is bad amongst all cultures, races and nationalities – traditionally Jamaican men love their women, family and children. We need to ensure they stand up proud.”

The line up for the weekend’s events looks as strong as ever. Some of the performers include The Wailers, Luciano, Wayne Marshall, Bounty Killer, Perfect Giddimani, Mighty Diamonds, Wayne Wonder, Luciano, Yellowman, Koffee, Horace Andy, Ken Boothe, Half Pint, Sasco, Jesse Royal, Jah Cure and course Queen Ifrica herself.

With Unesco recently announcing the importance of preserving Reggae and the culture behind it, you can’t help but admire the perseverance and vision of Tony Rebel and the team.

“It is needed – I’m sure he (Tony Rebel) must feel vindicated in his original outline for the event and to see an organisation like Unesco talk about the importance of the music and culture means we have to play our part for the young people that we have to look after.”

Duties calls and Ifrica had to leave to continue working down that “to do” list – one thing is for sure, the hard work from the entire Rebel Salute staff will be in evidence this weekend for the world to see.

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