International Reggae Day was launched on July 1, 1994. A brief History
International Reggae Day was inspired by Winnie Mandela during her official visit to Jamaica in July 1991 with her husband Nelson Mandela after his release from prison. Mrs. Mandela spoke of Reggae's power through the works of Marley, Tosh, Cliff and others, to inspire South Africa's people in the face of the oppressive Apartheid regime. A day to recognize the power of this art form seemed appropriate to Andrea Davis of Jamaica Arts Holdings and Reggae Day was launched on July 1, 1994.
A registered trademark, IRD has been promoted as an annual event since its proclamation by Jamaica’s Governor General in 2000. IRD networks participating media worldwide into a 24-hour global media festival - a virtual Reggae party hosted by Jamaica. A variety of IRD Festival activities have been produced physically over the years including music festivals, creative industries expo, Reggae film festival, Business and Copyright conferences, workshops, talent search, exhibit and awards. IRD has been used as a launch platform for various Brand Jamaica products from music to cuisine.
Previous IRD performers include Toots and the Maytals, Culture, Gregory Issacs, Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Luciano, Anthony B, Leroy Sibbles, Ken Boothe, Mighty Diamonds, Ernie Smith, Tony Rebel, Dean Frazer, Tessanne Chin, Junior Kelly, Turbulence, George Nooks, LUST, Cherine Anderson, Chuck Fenda, Diana King, Nahki, Kulcha Knox, VC, Abijah, Brent Dowe, President Brown, Pam Hall, L’Acadco, Studio One All-Stars, Alpha Boys Band and the Oberlin School Choir.
International Guest Presenters at past conferences and fora include former Grammy Reggae chairman and Reggae Archivist Roger Steffens, award winning Music Director Little X, Brasilian cultural economist Ana Carla Fonseca and seasoned US entertainment attorney Kendal Minter.