Reggae music is a genre that originated in Jamaica in the late 1960's. The music is a fusion of several music styles, which include, Ska and Rocksteady. The beat is slower than Ska, but faster than Rocksteady, and all very harmonious. The typical instruments include Bass, Drums, Guitar, Organ, Brass instrument, and Melodica. The song lyrics vary from love, to social and political issues, to peace, injustice, and religion. The songs are most often sung in Jamaican patois.
Various Jamaican artists have been credited for creating the name 'Reggae'. It is reported that the term Reggae first appeared in 1968 in the hit "Do the Reggay" by the Maytals. According to music historian Steve Barrow, Clancy Eccles changed the Jamaican patois word "streggae" (term used in Jamaica for a man or woman not dressed properly or looking raggedy) into Reggae. Bob Marley, the artist credited with making Reggae a worldwide movement, believed that Reggae came from a Spanish word meaning "King music."
In early 1960's Ska was the style most popular style of music in Jamaica. A deep bass line, smooth rhythmic guitar, and piano are the main characteristics of Ska, which was extremely popular in Jamaica. Many musicians started playing Ska, and the music gained popularity in the United Kingdom in 1964. In the mid 1960's a slower incarnation of Ska, known as Rocksteady, emerged with a single by Alton Ellis. The popularity of Ska and Rocksteady waned around 1967 with the explosion of Reggae on the music scene.
Many famous musicians have been credited for the surge in reggae music's popularity. Bunny Lee and Clancy Eccles are the credited as the first artists to have recorded the first Reggae singles in 1967 and 1968. Musicians Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer, all members of Bob Marley and The Wailers and Jimmy Cliff, are also recognized as some of the most influential ambassadors and exporters of Reggae music worldwide.
The 1970's reggae music saw the biggest surge in the music's popularity in the United States and the United Kingdom. Reggae not only received regular radio airplay in the United States, United Kingdom, but also began to influence other genres of music such as R&B, Merengue, and the emergence of a new brand of musical expression in the United States, Hip-hop Music.
In 1985 the Grammy Awards introduced the reggae music categories, such as best album and best artists. Today Reggae remains in the mainstream of the Jamaican culture and still is a large influence on youth culture and music in the United States and worldwide.