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The home of music journalist Nicholas Jennings, author of Lightfoot, the definitive new Gordon Lightfoot biography from Penguin Random House.
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Jackie Mittoo - Reggae's Keyboard King

Born on this day, March 3, in 1948, Jackie Mittoo can be rightly called the godfather of reggae music in Canada. When he emigrated to Toronto in 1969, Jackie was already a major star in Jamaica, having been a founding member of the ground-breaking Skatalites and a composer-arranger whose inspired keyboard work on countless Studio One recordings helped Jamaican music evolve from ska to rocksteady. Some say the gifted performer was the inventor of reggae itself.  After landing in Toronto, Jackie quickly began introducing audiences to a bubbling, keyboard-driven sound that came to be called reggae—earning himself widespread media attention and national airplay. Meanwhile, he recorded and t...
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New museum exhibit: Caribbean music in Toronto

Now open: a brand new exhibit at the Friar’s Music Museum, devoted to the deep, rich history of Caribbean music in Toronto. Among the Rhythms and Resistance exhibition’s many rare and wide-ranging artefacts are hundreds of photographs, posters, handbills, recordings, videos, instruments, costumes, clothing and assorted ephemera related to calypso, reggae, soul, funk and hip-hop musicians in Toronto, dating back to the first arrival of Caribbean immigrants in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Artists featured in this exhibition include Bob Marley, Lillian Allen, Jackie Mittoo, Louise Bennett, the Mighty Sparrow, JoJo Bennett, Leroy Sibbles, Michie Mee, Jay Douglas and many more. Proud to ha...
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Dennis Brown - Reggae crooner extraordinaire

Reggae artists seem to have a knack for taking well-known pop songs, transforming them with reggae’s distinctive, loping rhythm—what Bob Marley called “the one drop”—and creating new, sure-fire hits for themselves. Think of Toots and the Maytals’ reggae-fied remake of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” Peter Tosh’s Rasta variation on Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” or UB40’s version of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.” Reggae crooner Dennis Brown is no exception. Brown’s two current albums, Victory is Mine (on RAS Records) and Over Proof (Shanachie), each takes a North American hit and puts an unmistakable Jamaican spin on it. The former features a bubbly versi...
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JoJo Bennett - Reggae trailblazer

JoJo Bennett was a Jamaican orphan who found his calling when a teacher handed him a horn. Excelling on the trumpet, he grew to become a successful touring musician, songwriter and recording artist. In Canada, he added award-winning bandleader and owner of a recording studio and record label to his accomplishments. But he never forgot his roots, also starting his own music school along the way. Mr. Bennett, who died on Aug. 3 at the age of 81, may have been best known as the charismatic, dreadlocked figure in celebrated Canadian pop-reggae band the Sattalites. But after his passing, those close to him remembered a wise, modest man they affectionately called “Guru” and “Teach.” “Jo was a beau...
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Ronnie ‘Bop’ Williams - Unheralded reggae pioneer helped define the genre

He was one of the early architects of Jamaican music – a guitarist, bass player, songwriter, arranger and producer whose contributions to hundreds of recordings helped to shape reggae and popularize it around the world. He played with Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Johnny Nash and Toots and the Maytals, and worked for such famous studio owners as Duke Reid, Bunny Lee and Lee (Scratch) Perry, and the Trojan, Treasure Isle and Upsetter record labels. Yet the name Ronnie (Bop) Williams is barely known outside of reggae circles. Part of the reason for the near anonymity was Mr. Williams’s own modesty. A soft-spoken man, he came from extremely humble roots in rural Jamaica, teaching himself to play on ...
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