Aside from making you “pon de river” and “dutty wine” these influential artists of Caribbean descent were known for being pioneers in their own right, both on and off the radio.
The legendary Bob Marley is known far and wide for his compelling music. A descendant of Jamaica, Marley used his music to advocate for social change. Known for songs such as “Redemption Song” and “No Woman, No Cry,” Marley can easily be considered one of the most, if not the most, globally influential artists hailing from the Caribbean.
Sizzla is considered a leader of the dancehall movement. His music was inspirational, and advocated for respect and compassion. Sizzla was a member of the militant Bobo Ashanti sect of the Rastafari movement, which was present in his profound and prolific lyrics. Released in 1997, “Praise Ye Jah,” was hailed as one of the top conscious dancehall albums of its time.
An active member of the Civil Rights movement, Harry Belafonte was a folk singer and also appeared on Broadway. He was awarded a Tony in 1953, and is also known for recording the first million-selling LP album. Belafonte is often characterized for his outspoken nature in regard to civil rights violations and political imbalances.
Buju Banton is known for his politically conscious music. From “Tribal War,” condemning political violence, to songs advocating safe sex. He went on to produce an anti-gun song, cementing his role of an anti-confrontational artist. Banton is still known for maintaining positive and uplifting themes in his music, while commenting on a series of serious subjects.
Peter Tosh is most known for being a founding member of the reggae musical group, The Wailers, which gave Bob Marley his start. He spoke out both lyrically and in public statements about global oppression and artistic integrity. He is hailed as a prolific and powerful songwriter, who used music to inspire and inform.
A reggae legend, Jimmy Cliff used trips to Africa to inspire songs of social reform. His socially conscious album, “Rebirth,” featured songs such as “Children’s Bread,” which spoke of poverty and starvation among African children. He was awarded one of his home country Jamaica’s highest honor, the Order of Merit for achieving international distinction in the field of science, arts and literature in October 2003.
Dennis Brown entered the music scene at just 12 years old, with his first hit single, “No Man is and Island.” A child prodigy, Brown is also referred to as the “Michael Jackson of Reggae.” His songs are both uplifting and inspiring, his love of the music almost tangible. His musical themes varied from social shortcomings to ballads, prompting Bob Marley himself to call him, “the best reggae singer in the world.”
Marcia Griffiths is widely known as ‘The Queen of Reggae Music.’ A pioneer for women in reggae music, Griffiths is head of the Marcia Griffiths Foundation, which is dedicated to programs for women, children and the elderly. Her foundation also funds a music scholarship at Edna Manley College. She was officially crowned “The Queen of Reggae” on March 3, 1993 in Miami, Fla.
Dubbed “the greatest singer of popular music Cuba has ever produced,” Beny Moré mixed both African and European influences in his music. His vocal stylings were said to be signature, and included a variation of signing techniques. Some even argue that his versatile and melodic voice has yet to be matched.