The coronavirus pandemic did not put a damper on Jamaica’s Reggae Sumfest, which took place virtually, over the weekend.
While the ongoing travel restrictions, limits on social gatherings, and the fear of contagion prevented the annual festival from being held at the usual venue of Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, the promoters of the event were not outdone.
“If anything, COVID-19 has demonstrated that, in order to remain relevant, we must be able to meet challenges head-on and we must rethink our models,” said DownSound CEO Joe Bogdanovich leading up to the week of activities.
Reggae and dancehall’s tip acts took the stage, not in front of a live audience, but via livestream on Youtube and other social media platforms.
The opening night, on Friday, July 24, saw performances from old school duos Chaka Demus and Pliers and Tanto Metro and Devonte, with new school dancehall acts Ding Dong, Agent Sasco and Shenseea, among others.
The second and final night closed the festival with performances from Tarrus Riley, Gyptian, Maxi Priest, Koffee, and Freddie McGregor, with the legendary Sizzla closing the show.
At the end of the festival, nine-time reggae Grammy nominee Third World was presented with the Reggae Sumfest Lifetime Achievement Award, for their over 40 years of dedication to reggae music.
Although it was not the traditional way to celebrate Jamaica’s entertainers, the event was well-received across by Jamaicans on social media. Jamaica’s minister of Entertainment, Sport, Gender and Culture, Olivia “Babsy” Grange congratulated the RFeggae Sumfest team and the performers following the event.
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