Kingston, JA: Singer Richie Stephens and his 17-member Ska Nation Band will headline this year’s Grand Gala, the premier entertainment event for the celebration of Jamaica’s 56th Independence at the National Stadium in Kingston on August 6, 2018.
The entertainment event will be attended by a number of Jamaican dignitaries, including Governor General Sir Patrick Allen; Prime Minister Andrew Holness; Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips; Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange; Speaker of the House Pearnel Charles; Chief Justice Zaila McCalla; Jamaica Defence Force, Chief of Staff Major General Rocky Meade; Police Commissioner George Quallo; and Mayor of Kingston Delroy Williams.
“To be invited to perform at Grand Gala for the people of Jamaica ranks as one of our biggest and most important assignments since the group was formed two years ago” Stephens disclosed.
The ‘Life Your Life” singer, who has travelled the world and performed as a brand Ambassador for the Jamaica Tourist Board, (JTB) spoke about the significance of this assignment.
“Ska is big internationally, especially in places like Japan, parts of the USA, and Italy but we don’t celebrate it in Jamaica anymore. This is an opportunity to educate the youths of Jamaica about Ska and let them know that this beautiful music originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was the precursor to rocksteady, reggae, and dancehall music. In fact, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff, all started out playing ska as teenagers. Ska is the mother of reggae. Without Ska there would be no reggae” he explained.
Stephens said his passion for ska was developed as a youngster.
“My dad was the person who introduced me to Ska. He was one of the baddest ska dancers in town,” he confessed.
Ska Nation Band member Papa Leu, who is from Salento, Italy spoke about performing at Grand Gala.
“This assignment has historical and cultural significance” Leu confessed.
“We in Italy love Ska music. We are elated that the government of Jamaica has given us this platform to showcase music that was originally created in Jamaica. It is my dream that this performance set the stage for some sort of cultural exchange between Italy and Jamaica” Leu reasoned.
Rankin Lele of Ska Nation and Adriatic Sound in Italy spoke about the opportunity to perform in Jamaica again, having performed at Reggae Sumfest in Montego Bay last summer.
“Performing at Sumfest last year was a life-changing experience. In everything we have done since we always represent Jamaica. We feel we are unofficial ambassadors of this beautiful county that gave us this great music Ska” he noted.
In 2016, Stephens & The Ska Nation Band released their debut studio album titled “Internationally.” “Root of the Music” – the title track and lead single from their second full-length album will be released in August. The lyrics bear testament to the many genres Jamaica has gifted the world, while the musical arrangement seamlessly blends these styles together.