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Alpha Boys School: Cradle of Jamaican Music & Ska Beat Soul DJs

The Rose Hill
Event organized by The Rose Hill

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Celebrating the publication of the book
Alpha Boys' School: Cradle of Jamaican Music by Heather Augustyn and Adam Reeves

Local author Adam Reeves presents a talk with Q&A and book signing. Co-hosted by South coast legends Ska Beat Soul playing the best in ska, rocksteady and early reggae vinyl.

At the Rose Hill, Rose Hill Terrace, Brighton. BN1 4JJ
Saturday 5th May 7pm-11pm. ADMISSION FREE.


'The Alpha Boys' School is at the roots of the explosion of Jamaican music.' - Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records

Behind Jamaica's global musical reverberation lies the unlikely story of a boarding school run by Roman Catholic nuns, with a brass band that helped shape the sound of some the world's most beloved musical forms. Under a strict disciplinarian regime, 'wayward boys,’ many of whom were orphaned or from deeply troubled backgrounds and hailing from some of the toughest streets in the world, went on to lay the foundations of Jamaican jazz, ska, rocksteady, reggae, dancehall and dub.

Alpha Boys School: Cradle Of Jamaican Music takes a look at the lives of over forty of these influential musicians who against a backdrop of extreme poverty, gun culture, street gangs and an urban civil war, attained virtuoso musicianship to create their own sonic revolution. Told in a narrative style with a wealth of interviews, exclusive photos and archival material this book is a long overdue look at the lives and impact of the Alpha Boys.

Noted Alpharian musicians include four founding members of The Skatalites: Tommy McCook, Don Drummond, Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore and Lester Stirling. Jamaican jazz giants Joe Harriott, Dizzy Reece and Harold McNair were graduates. Some of the finest reggae musicians of all time passed through the school including ‘Deadly’ Headley Bennett, Johnny Osbourne, Albert Malawi, Yellowman, Leroy Smart, Bobby Ellis, Cedric ‘IM” Brooks, Eddie ‘Tan Tan’ Thornton, Vin Gordon, Rico Rodriguez, Owen Gray and Leroy ‘Horsemouth’ Wallace. Each has their own unique tale of how Alpha saved them from challenging early life circumstances by giving them the gift of music.

At the heart of the story is Sister Mary Ignatius, the remarkable nun who ran the music department at Alpha Boys School for 64 years, inspiring generations of young men to make music their occupation. Famed for operating her own bass-heavy sound system where she would spin her collection of the hippest jazz, r’n’b and ska 45s, Sister Ignatius was adored by her boys and remained friends with them throughout their lives, wherever they were in the world. She is the true Godmother of Ska and Reggae.

A very welcome reference book whose lightness of touch serves the weight of the subject. - Jazzwize Magazine.

There was never a school like it. - Chris Salewicz, author of Bob Marley: The Untold Story.

'The book's two authors have gleaned a wealth of new information and insights via their detailed interviews with former pupils, making this volume not only a fine tribute to the school but also a significant contribution to the ongoing documentation of Jamaica's musical heritage.' - Wire Magazine.

Signed copies will be available on the night at a 20% discounted rate of £15

A collection will be made to support The Alpha Institute, which continues to provide musical training for vulnerable boys in Kingston, Jamaica.