Los Angeles – – Eric Rachmany of Reggae group Rebelution and Reggae Scholar Roger Steffens are lending their support to the Estate of Peter Tosh to raise money for two initiatives voted on by the fan community. The online streaming events on Stage It and UStream are part of the Estate’s efforts to continue Peter Tosh’s activist legacy. On July 30, at 3 p.m. PST, Mr. Rachmany of Rebelution will provide an online concert for fans on the campaign channel on Stage It. Mr. Steffans will follow on August 12 at 3 p.m. on Peter Tosh’s Ustream Channel with a streaming lecture, guiding fans through Reggae history with an interactive, multimedia presentation including rare and never-before-released footage from his own collection. Proceeds from both events will benefit the community-selected programs benefiting Studio Black, an arts organization in Tosh’s hometown in Jamaica, and Casa Milagro, an educational organization in Costa Rica.
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About Casa Milagro: Here in Costa Rica The Casa Milagro foundation has many projects going on all over the country. We have interns and volunteers working on Sea Turtle Conservation sites in very remote places, schools, National Parks and the list goes on and on. Here in Hojancha however, at Vecinos Del Mundo and Tropical Adventures headquarters, we live in and work collaboratively with the community to organize activities for people of all age groups to participate in. As of now we have movie night once a week for the younger kids showing films which relate to moral concepts such as environmental conservation, caring for your neighbor etc., after school programs for the elementary school age children and english lessons in the afternoon and evening two times a week for adults who did not learn in school. The particular project we are now working on we have named the Youth Distance Learning Project. The goal is to connect the classes here in Hojancha with those of the United States, France and elsewhere. Incredibly we already have over one hundred interested classes abroad. The problems we face is that the school here is very limited technology wise. What little internet they do have, is still not nearly strong enough to run programs like Skype or other softwares that provide videochat services. Our solution is to attempt to build an office/cultural media center in which we would have a projector, several computers a solid internet connection and a printer where we could lead these Distance Learning “sessions”. Here the town’s Botanical Garden has already offered to donate space on the land to build said center. This would be a great location because it is located very close to the school so the teachers and their students can easily utilize it. The center would also be a great place for our interns to work as currently we do not have a designated office other than the small house that all of the interns live in. We believe this project will cost us 10,000 dollars to fully complete but we are seeking any funds that will at least help us to break ground.
About Studio Black: Studio Black is looking for assistance in the expansion of its operations in Belmont, Westmoreland. Artist Calvin Clunie, best known as Jah Calo, would like to begin formal apprenticeship programs and a Youth Art initiative to further develop the arts and culture of the Bluefields area. This project calls for the construction of a 16’ x 28’ space to serve as workshop and gallery. The open work space will be used for training and demonstrations as well as be available for artists to use on a shared schedule. The enclosed gallery will exhibit a variety of locally made crafts and periodically hold exhibitions featuring different artists or themes. The Studio has many activities planned and in order to accommodate them, it must expand. With the completed physical facility of Studio Black we can begin to push this cultural renaissance, having created a space for training, employment, and engagement. Proceeds from the sale of artwork will feed back into our programs allowing for continued education and outreach. We will hold special events and fundraisers with a focus on culture. Studio Black intends to encourage artisans and trainees to become independent, to build their own studios in the area in order to develop an Art Trail through Bluefields.
Located on Jamaica’s South Coast Highway, Studio Black has been an important part of the Bluefields community since 1977, celebrating its 35th anniversary alongside Jamaica50. Jah Calo’s work, commissioned by local businesses and foreign visitors, is seen across the community and the globe. Those who take time to visit his workshop by the sea are sure to take home an experience as well. Shops and bars across town kindly refuse credit with colourful signs designed by him. Calo’s generous contributions to community include the murals of our Basic School and Community Center. His most famous work perhaps is the entrance to the Peter Tosh Memorial in Belmont.
Mr. Clunie is also very active in community development. He was one of the founding members of the Bluefields Peoples Community Association (BPCA) in 1988. Certified in the Team Jamaica training, he received the Best Team Player Award and currently serves as the Team Jamaica coordinator for Bluefields and Beeston Springs. He mentors countless individuals, but is especially dedication to the youth. His favourite themes: education and empowerment. As Studio Black expands its space, Jah Calo wishes to expand the vision. This application seeks assistance with the building of much more than a physical structure. It is a meeting place where art become the medium by which community is made.
The expansion of studio Black will cost $5,000 in materials. As soon as construction is complete, Studio Black will begin a Youth Art Program in collaboration with area schools to encourage our young generations to explore and encourage their creative abilities. Studio Black will hold workshops to explore new and old craft techniques, while encouraging experimentation. Training programs will be offered to those interested in beginning or enhancing their craftwork. Based on initial surveys and research in the area, there is a great demand for such opportunities. We can expect area arts to revive and thrive if it is strategically linked into broader objectives of area development, both socially and economically. Artwork produced by students will also be a part of our special exhibitions. We plan to create public art spaces around Bluefields to nice up the area for local residents and to encourage our visitors to take time in enjoying our community
Development surrounding the arts and culture of Bluefields is a logical advancement. With the increased interest in heritage and cultural tourism, art and culture become significant resources to draw on. But these are precious resources and must be used in responsible and respectful ways. The Studio Black Project will focus on the mentoring aspects of art and culture to bring together the creative communities of Bluefields. This project is meant to promote strong, positive values as well as home grown craft products. Education, jobs and skills training are among our most pressing needs in Bluefields. Traditional knowledge, like that which surrounds art and culture, remains a critical resource for the future.
About Peter Tosh: Peter Tosh was more than a luminary in the development of reggae music. He was the ultimate firebrand, speaking out against oppression around the world in both his songs and his public statements, a man who demonstrated the power of personal and artistic integrity, pride and defiance in the face of authoritarian power. His music’s insurrectionary fervor has inspired artists of all stripes, from reggae disciples to punk-rock acolytes like The Clash.
Tosh was the backbone and heartbeat of the Wailers as well the group’s most accomplished musician – and a constant in the band throughout the arrivals and departures of his musical brethren. His tireless guitar, keyboards, percussion and other instruments, meanwhile, formed the foundation of the Wailers’ sound and essentially set the course of reggae music. He was also a prolific and powerful songwriter, his militant perspective offering a bracing contrast to Marley’s more reassuring tone; in a sense he played Lennon to his bandmate’s McCartney.
This was borne out in his solo work, especially in such stirring songs as the purposeful plaint “Equal Rights,” the unstoppable unity anthem “African,” the ganja manifesto “Legalize It” and his mesmerizing, indelible take on Joe Higgs’ “Stepping Razor.” The latter title was also one of Tosh’s nicknames (alongside Bush Doctor, The Toughest and other monikers) – a highly fitting one, given the slashing wit of his wordplay, the keenness of his intellect, and the cool slice of his guitar. “I’m dangerous,” Tosh sang on the latter song, and as everyone from local toughs to government enforcers would come to understand, he wasn’t kidding.
His work trumpeted freedom and the struggle against injustice, and he emphasized the connection between music and revolution by toting a guitar in the shape of an AK-47 rifle. Hounded, beaten and jailed by Jamaican authorities, Tosh never backed down or soft-pedaled his views. But he often expressed those views with humor, and was capable of lighthearted surprise as much as full-voiced outrage: an accomplished unicyclist, he often pedaled onstage, to the delight of his audiences. His playful side and irrepressible charisma proved especially charming to women; Tosh’s reputation as a ladies’ man is well deserved.
Among the causes about which he spoke most eloquently and campaigned most tirelessly: the peril of nuclear weapons, the injustice of Apartheid (he was the first major songwriter to discuss the issue openly) and the benefits of legalizing marijuana. He felt music was a vital tool in all these struggles, and to that end performed countless benefit concerts (including the Youth Consciousness performances in Jamaica, designed to galvanize young Jamaicans against violence and toward political enfranchisement) and established a “Rasta Reggae Radio” station in Jamaica to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. He also joined such megastars as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, the Doobie Brothers and Bonnie Raitt for the celebrated “No Nukes” concerts mounted by MUSE (Musicians United for Safe Energy) in 1979, which ultimately became a successful album and film. Rolling Stone declared the performances “a stunning testimony to the depth of the shared beliefs of the generation which came of age in the sixties.” Unlike his U.S. peers, however, Tosh frequently put himself in danger as a result of his activism – especially his constant needling of Jamaica’s rulers.
But Tosh’s vision wasn’t limited to changing laws and reducing weapons. In “African,” he offers a moving testimony to shared roots, declaring, “Don’t care where you come from/As long as you’re a black man, you’re an African.” The song’s passionate demand that black people ignore the shades of their “plection” and celebrate their common origins continues to resonate powerfully. “Get Up, Stand Up,” which he co-wrote, became the anthem of Amnesty International.
Tosh hit the global charts with the classic-soul cover “Walk, Don’t Look Back,” his smash duet with Mick Jagger (and became the first artist to sign with Rolling Stone Records), and was awarded a posthumous Grammy Award for Best Reggae Performance in 1987 for “No Nuclear War” – just months after he was murdered in a controversial home-invasion robbery. But though his life was snuffed out by violence, his star has shone ever brighter in the ensuing years.
“Truth has been branded outlaw and illegal,” Tosh’s voice declared on an audiotape found after his demise. “It is dangerous to have the truth in your possession. You can be found guilty and sentenced to death.”
Peter Tosh’s example, as both artist and activist, continues to inspire creators and idealists around the world. He was and is a true leader whose music and message inspires people on every continent throughout the world.