Reggae music to be protected by United Nations |
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Jamaican Reggae singer Bob Marley performs on stage during a concert in Bourget, Paris, on July 3, 1980.

The United Nations thinks reggae music is worth protecting.

BBC News reports the genre was added to a list of international cultural treasures by the the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO because “its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, sociopolitical, sensual and spiritual.”

Jamaican Culture Minister Olivia Grange said the country was behind a push to list reggae as a “uniquely Jamaican” tradition. “It is a music that we have created that has penetrated all corners of the world,” Grande said.

Reggae started in Jamaica in the late 1960s, as a blend of ska and rocksteady with blues and jazz. Its songs often touch on sociopolitical issues, like police brutality, imprisonment and inequality. The word reggae stems from the term “rege-rege,” which translates to “rags” or “ragged clothes.”

The style uses a heavy four-beat rhythm of drums, bass and electric guitars.

Top artists in the genre include Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, and Toots and the Maytals, whose 1968 track “Do the Reggay” was the first song to use the term.

“The basic social functions of the music – as a vehicle for social commentary, a cathartic practice, and a means of praising God – have not changed, and the music continues to act as a voice for all,” the UN agency said.

The other cultural traditions that made this year’s lineup include a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual, a Spanish riding school in Vienna, and Czech puppetry.

The UN’s protected list began in 2008.

Chris Pastrick is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris at 724-226-4697, [email protected] or via Twitter @CPastrickTrib.

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