The true story of the school that started a musical revolution.
Ska and reggae music has reverbarated around the planet but without the musical brilliance of the graduates of Jamaica’s Alpha Boys’ School it might never have been that way.
From the Jamaican big band swing of the 1940s and ’50s through the ska and rocksteady of the 1960s, the global roots reggae explosion of the 1970s and the rise of the new dancehall style in the 1980s, graduates of Alpha Boys’ School have been right at the heart of the musical action, composing, arranging and playing on thousands of the most beloved Jamaican records of all time.
Facing a life of poverty, neglect, abandonment and even homelessness, young boys from the most deprived parts of Kingston were placed at Alpha, a residential home run by a strict order of Roman Catholic nuns. Alongside industrial trade apprenticeships, boys would fight for a prestigous place in the Alpha school band, overseen for an astonishing 64 years by the jazz-loving Sister Mary Ignatius – the true Godmother of Ska and Reggae.
From early Jamaican jazz giants like Joe Harriott and Dizzy Reece to the greatest ska band of all time, The Skatalites, and some of reggae’s most inspirational artists such as Cedric Brooks, Rico Rodriguez, Johnny Osbourne, Leroy Smart and Yellowman, the Alpha story is the untold history of Jamaican music.
Join Heather Augustyn and Adam Reeves as they shed light on this remarkable institution and the life and works of over 40 of its most influential graduates.
The culmination of many combined years of work, using musicians’ personal recollections and a wealth of rarely seen photographs,Alpha Boys’ School: Cradle of Jamaican Musicis a must for all lovers of. original ska, rocksteady, roots reggae, dub and dancehall.
They recall the early days in the recording studio, playing the instrumental backup for Bob Marley and others, and the nights in the Rasta camps where musicians burned the midnight oil and more. They remember the gyrations of his lover, Margarita, the Rumba Queen, as she tantalized audiences at Club Havana; tell what happened that tragic night when Drummond stabbed Margarita four times; reveal details of the trial (delayed more than a year as Drummond was ruled mentally unfit) and offer insights into Drummond’s death in a mental asylum at age 35.