Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae is a musical journey into the infectious grooves of the form of Jamaican music known as Rocksteady. The film features the music and stories of the legendary singers and musicians of the Rocksteady era. They came together after 40 years to tell their story, record an album of Rocksteady hits, and perform together again at an all-star reunion concert in both Kingston and Montreal.
In their own words, the Rocksteady singers and musicians tell the audience about the 1960s in Jamaica, a roller-coaster decade during which the island was transformed politically, socially, economically and culturally.
In 1962, the island gained its independence from Great Britain. During the next few years, there was celebration, optimism, economic growth and opportunity. Recording studios popped up all over Kingston, competed for the best artists and produced an astounding number of songs.
By 1968, however, Jamaica’s economic bubble had burst and unemployed youths fought with police for control of the streets. As violence, poverty and political upheaval spread, Rocksteady artists stopped singing about love and romance and instead gave voice to the social problems around them. By 1969, the buoyant rhythms, prominent bass pulse, soulful vocals and socially-conscious lyrics had laid the foundation for what became Reggae.
Performers include Hopeton Lewis, Dawn Penn, Stranger Cole, Marcia Griffiths, Ken Boothe, Derrick Morgan, Leroy Sibbles, U-Roy; Judy Mowatt, Marcia Griffiths and Rita Marley (who collectively formed the I-Threes), Ernest Ranglin, Sly Dunbar, Jackie Jackson, Gladstone Anderson, Hux Brown, Lloyd Parks and Noel ‘Scully’ Simms among others.
Accompanying the film is the soundtrack album which features re-recorded versions of 15 Rocksteady classics by the legendary musicians and singers who took part in the film. Recorded at Tuff Gong in Kingston, April 2008.