Leeds celebrates reggae’s 50th year

Celebrating 50 years of UK Reggae at the Carriageworks in Leeds. Lord Mayor Coun Graham Latty with Brinsley Forde from Aswad and Black Musice Festival organiser Heather Nelson.'2nd August 2018.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
Celebrating 50 years of UK Reggae at the Carriageworks in Leeds. Lord Mayor Coun Graham Latty with Brinsley Forde from Aswad and Black Musice Festival organiser Heather Nelson.'2nd August 2018.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Millennium Square played host to its first ever reggae concert last night as the music genre celebrated 50 years.

The style of music originated in Jamaica but Leeds was instrumental in it gaining popularity and air space in the UK.

Celebrating 50 years of UK Reggae at the Carriageworks in Leeds. Leader of Leeds City Council Coun Judith Blake and Lord Mayor Coun Graham Latty with organisors and performers.'2nd August 2018.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Celebrating 50 years of UK Reggae at the Carriageworks in Leeds. Leader of Leeds City Council Coun Judith Blake and Lord Mayor Coun Graham Latty with organisors and performers.'2nd August 2018.'Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe

Last night some of the biggest names in reggae took to the stage to show Leeds first hand the legacy it has helped to create.

Topping the bill were Aswad’s Brinsley Forde, Janet Kay (who brought reggae to mainstream music appearing on Top of the Pops in 1979 singing Silly Games) and Royal Blood. Other local acts were appearing on stage too.

Heather Nelson is one of the organisers of the Black Music Festival: Salute Reggae tribute.

She said at the height of the festival last night there were thousands of people packed into Millennium Square.

The Chief Executive officer from the Black Health Initiative told how the reggae movement got started in Leeds.

She said: “There were rival labels like Saxon in London and that is how people did their battles. It was through music but Leeds was never documented in that movement.”

However, she added that people who came to Leeds and the UK post-war, such as on the Empire Windrush ship, music became a home comfort.

She said: “The first generation from that did not have any identity. As much as we had Bob Marley, what we did here was develop sounds that meant a lot to us – the The Lovers Rock sound, and there have been many other genres of reggae, but that was close to us spiritually and gave us a bit of heritage that we did not have.

“It influenced UB40 and Simply Red. It is not just black music. Reggae is a music that unites.”