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Birmingham to host major 50th anniversary celebrations of Jamaica independence

Birmingham is to host the biggest celebration of Jamaican independence outside the Caribbean this summer.

Opera singer Abigail Kelly with Beverly Lindsay, chair of the Jamaican Association, and Jaki Graham
Opera singer Abigail Kelly with Beverly Lindsay, chair of the Jamaican Association, and Jaki Graham

Birmingham is to host the biggest celebration of Jamaican independence outside the Caribbean this summer.

The city will witness a myriad of cultural events to mark 50 years of freedom for the island nation.

Under the umbrella of Jamaica 50 there will be concerts and festivals to coincide with the arrival of the Jamaican track and field team, who will be using the University of Birmingham as their training base ahead of the London Olympics.

Emma Gray, director of marketing for Visit Birmingham, said: “The celebrations will reflect the strength and diversity of the Caribbean community in the city, from music, food and performance, to arts and culture.

“Birmingham has a lot to offer in each of these areas and I’m certain that all the Jamaica 50 events will offer something for each of the family to enjoy.”

Jamaica’s gold medal hopefuls will take a break from training for Jamaica’s 50th Cultural Extravaganza Concert, including performances from Birmingham’s Jamelia, Musical Youth and Jaki Graham, at Symphony Hall on July 25.

The event will be hosted by the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK in association with Birmingham City Council, The Jamaican High Commission and the Jamaican Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA).

Proceeds from the event will go to JAAA for sports development in Jamaica.

Birmingham boasts the largest Jamaican community outside London and will host the BASS (British Arts and Street Sounds) Festival 2012 – a month-long celebration of Black music and art - in various venues across the city until July 15, with Jamaica as its theme.

The festival will see performances from Birmingham singer and producer Lady Leshurr and Grime MC RoxXxan, as well as a number of other events including art exhibitions and dancehall concerts.

Now in its third year, the free Simmer Down Reggae Festival will take place in Handsworth Park on July 22.

From August 2 – 6, Victoria Square will host Jamaica in the Square, a five day cultural celebration which will see the Jamaican flag raised over the Council House on the final day.

The Drum arts centre in Aston will host the Jamaica Independence International Reggae Showcase on August 4.

The best of urban music will be represented at the Flyover Show at Hockley Circus on August 18, organised by celebrated Birmingham musician Soweto Kinch, who will also be performing.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery’s has a Jamaica 50 exhibition until September 30, including the stories of the journeys made by some of those Jamaicans who settled in Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s in their own words, pictures, personal artefacts and memories.

On August 1 the New Testament Church of God in Handsworth plan a day of prayer and fasting for the Jamaican diaspora.

>Art In The Dancehall event celebrates 50 years of Jamaican pop culture art

More:
Punch Records - Bass Festival 
Birmingham Museaum & Art Gallery - Jamaica 50 
www.the-drum.org.uk

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