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Reggae lessons

David Hinds of British band Steel Pulse is calling for reggae's history to be taught in Jamaican schools. The singer/songwriter says it is a shame that foreigners know more about the country's music than Jamaican youth.

“Mighty Crown and David Rodigan are teaching people about Jamaican music. You talk to di youths out there now and all they know about is Vybz Kartel and Popcaan; they know nothing about the elders,” Hinds told the Jamaica Observer.

Mighty Crown from Japan is arguably the top sound system in the world, while Rodigan, a white Briton, is an authority on dancehall culture. Both tour the globe and play to packed venues.

Hinds, whose parents are Jamaican, said reggae must be part of the Jamaican school curriculum given its international appeal.

“Usain Bolt is great but with all due respect, he came later. It's reggae that put Jamaica on the map,” he stated.

Hinds said Jamaicans have long had an indifferent relationship with the music they created. He recalls staying at the Jamaica Pegasus on his first trip to Kingston in 1983, and going to a club on the hotel's top floor.

“They were playing Bonnie Tyler's song ( Total Eclipse of The Heart) and when they switched to reggae, I heard someone shout, 'Tun dat off!' I said, 'what?! In Jamaica?!'”

The 63-year-old Hinds was born in Handsworth, in the British Midlands. His parents, Charles and Ruby Hinds, are from Walkerswood and Bromley Hill, St Ann, respectively.

He said as a black youth in the United Kingdom, they made sure he knew everything about Jamaica.

“It was part of the culture in my household,” he said.

Steel Pulse was part of the first-generation, black British reggae acts that emerged during the 1970s, when minorities in the UK fought against racial discrimination. Aswad, Misty In Roots and Capital Letters are some of their contemporaries.

The band is known for several outstanding albums such as Handsworth Revolution, True Democracy and Earth Crisis. In 1987, they won the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album with Babylon The Bandit.

Steel Pulse are nominated in that category for Mass Manipulation at next year's Grammy Awards.

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