Celebrating the music, culture and enthusiasm of Jamaica as a newly independent nation more than 50 years ago, Legends of Ska chronologically explores the history and influence of original Jamaican ska. In the spirit of films like Buena Vista Social Club and 20 Feet From Stardom, this documentary intersperses vintage and contemporary concert footage, rare photographs, newsreels, artifacts, interviews and authentic tourist 8mm home movies. Ska was Jamaica’s first popular musical export, which sprang from the jazz clubs and dance halls of Kingston to spawn a worldwide dance craze.
The film highlights the living pioneers of ska, who were assembled in Toronto during the summer of 2002 for a special weekend of concerts called the “Legends Of Ska.” Thirty foundation singers and musicians were selected to participate in the biggest original ska reunion of all time. Backed by the thirteen piece All-Star Skatalites Orchestra, the performers included internationally famous names like Prince Buster, Alton Ellis, Derrick Morgan and Millicent “Patsy” Todd. Joining the line-up were once forgotten vintage artists such as Stranger Cole, Lord Creator and Rico Rodriguez. NOW Magazine in Toronto named the Legends of Ska “Concert of the Year 2002.”
Filmgoers will come away with an in-depth understanding of the irrepressible, seductive beat of ska and have their hearts lifted high by the extraordinary stories from these unique entertainers. Some viewers will discover a new musical art form, while others might reminisce about a music that first touched their lives long ago. Audiences can experience the human connection by understanding the talents of men and women who struggled in daily island life, while yearning for respect from their British and American peers. Originally overshadowed by Beatlemania and rock n’ roll, ska never received the recognition it rightly deserves as a lasting, influential musical genre. This film will change that perception. Without Ska, there is no Reggae.