In the 60 years since Jamaica gained independence from England on August 6, 1962, the small Caribbean nation has created some of the world’s most influential musical styles, including ska, rock steady, reggae, dub and dancehall. Likewise, over the past 60 years, Jamaican artists have distilled inspiration from various parts of the world into distinctive sounds that, combined with the island’s astonishingly prolific recorded material, have made it a “land of wood and water,” as its first inhabitants, the Arawak Indians called it. , one of the most important music destinations in the world.
To celebrate Jamaica’s Diamond Jubilee, we’ve compiled a playlist of 60 songs, one song per year, to tell the story of the island’s musical evolution. Some tracks were chosen because they heralded a new sound direction, others started a movement, some caused controversy, marked a turning point in the artist’s career, or had a significant impact at the time of release.
Because Jamaica has been blessed with an abundance of outstanding musical talent, the list features only one entry per artist. However, those who are recognized for a solo performance may also be listed for recordings they made as part of a group or in collaboration with another artist. Because there were too many records to choose from for any given year, some important releases may not appear on the list. But that’s just a reminder of how incredibly rich this history is.