Lots of guides give you a checklist of what to pack when going on holiday to Jamaica, we do too, however we also advise lots of listening to the radio station created by island’s famous boy’s vocational school, the Alpha Boys School that is available worldwide via their app.
Alpha Boys was started as an orphanage back in 1884 by a local philanthropist, Jessie Ripoll who subsequently invited a UK order of nuns based in Bermondsey London, the Sisters of Mercy to help her care for her growing number of boys. In 1892 the school established their Drum & Fife Corps band after they received instruments from England and in 1908 it became a full brass band after receiving a number of donated wind instruments from the USA. The school now acts as a vocational day school to those at risk and disadvantaged boys aged between 8 and 18 years old.
The Cradle to Ska, Reggae and Rocksteady
Former headmistress, Sister Marie Ignatius Davies, Iggy (1921-2003) help foster the school’s highly acclaimed music programme which is said to have been the cradle to Jamaica’s incredible musical heritage of Ska, Reggae and Rocksteady. She had her own sound system and decks and and would organise Saturday night dances to ensure everyone got to listen and dance to the latest tunes. You can listen to her influence on the album Trojan Records bought out celebrating the school and which is still available. If you are in Seattle pop into the museum to see her notes about how to mix a Prince Buster song to the Skalites all of whom were her students. Check out her internationally famous ex-students, and have a listen to her favourite record by one of them, Don Drummond’s Eastern Time.
Today in addition to mainstream employment skills the school provides students a classical music foundation, reading music, harmony and composition with instruction in piano, wind and brass, percussion and in jazz and latin rhythms so that once they leave the school those interested can pursue successful musical careers with studios, local hotel or touring bands.
Arrange a Visit to Alpha Boys School
We can arrange a visit to the school as part of our Pressing Tunes music tour of Kingston. The first two guests who book visit will receive 2 t-shirts designed by the boys as part of their new skills and available online at their shop.
Listen to the Apha Boys School Radio