For the past 36 years veteran Selecta, DJ radio host George Barrett is hosting the Reggae Show on CFRO 100.5 FM and The Rockers Show CITR-101.9 FM for 30 Years
On August 28th 1976, George Barrett began his broadcasting career on Vancouver Coop Radio, CFR0 100.5FM after migrating to British Columbia from his native Jamaica. A reflection of his life, work, and passion, The Reggae Radio Show was born. In October 1982, its sibling, The Rockers Show - named after the classic Jamaican film 'Rockers' - followed on CITR 101.9 FM. Thirty-four years since his first show aired, George Barrett continues to dedicate his time and talents to educate and entertain western Canadians and world-wide listeners on his weekly reggae programmers.
In Jamaica, George's passion for reggae music began at an early age; his family's business in Bath, St. Thomas, was next door to Robert's Night Club and Tavern. Too young to go to the weekend dances, George would watch the preparations instead, taking a particular interest in the stringing up of the sound systems. This early exposure to sound systems such as Barlow Sound, Daddy Nick, Mellow Canary, Merritone Disco, Danny Lou, and Phoenix the Ghost, in addition to his later influences that included the likes of Sir Coxsone's Downbeat Sound, Duke Reid's Trojan Sound, Super Tone Sound, Lloyd Bells, Lloyd the Matador Sound, and King Tubby's among others, led to the creation of George's own sound system, Wadada Hi-Fi years later in Canada. A note to the soundbwoys: his box is deep, with over4000 7" singles, 3000 plus LPs and 12" records, and over 10,000 CDs; not too many soundmen would be left standing especially after he plays his barrage of authentic dub plates from the Stepping' Razor himself, Peter Tosh.
With the longest running reggae show in Canada, it is no wonder that George "Reggae" Barrett is a multiple Canadian Reggae Music Award (CRMA) winner for his outstanding work and dedicated services in the field of reggae music. The CRMA also bestowed on him his cherished Peter Tosh Memorial Award, one of his fondest memories alongside that of reuniting with Bob Marley and the Wailers in their dressing room in 1976 while touring in Vancouver. Others have also found it fitting to praise and honor George for his dedication, passion and hard work. In the liner notes of the Peter Tosh Honorary Citizen 3 CD box set, George Barrett received an honorable mention for his contribution. George has been honoured by The Congress of Black Women, receiving the Canada Pioneer Award for his "Contribution in Paving the Way for Others to follow”. Additionally, he was also recognized for his Outstanding Community Contribution in Broadcasting, by Caribe-Wescan CC.
"Reggae is largely absent from mainstream airplay in North America. Its strongest outposts are non-commercial and college radio stations, and public access cable TV channels, which broadcast programs presented by volunteer devotees of the music. To do a weekly show requires an enormous amount of work - auditioning new releases, researching the backgrounds of upcoming guests, combing the past for its most important moments. It requires an enormous amount of dedication - or, as Rasta say, "livication," because these activities are almost all non-paying positions. Such a committed presenter is George Barrett of Vancouver, who has spent 33 years educating Western Canada's growing reggae audience. He comes from the First Family of Reggae Music - his cousins Carlton and Aston are the world-famous Barrett Brothers, the drum and bass section of Bob Marley's Wailers band, who brought the message of the prophet to the four corners of the planet, so the music is in George's blood.
"Because he came directly out of the culture that produced this irresistible riddim, he knows it in ways that those of us up north can't. And his articulate ability to share his knowledge and love of reggae has shaped Canada's perceptions of Jamaica's greatest export, and influenced a couple of generations of young fans. His works are acknowledged internationally, his selfless service widely respected. There are very few broadcasters who have enjoyed such a long and fertile career as George Barrett, and I'm proud to call him 'friend'". -Roger Steffens, Chairman, Reggae Grammy Committee; Founding Editor, The Beat.
According to Denise Jones, CEO of Jones and Jones Productions in Toronto,
"George continues to play a vital role in branding reggae on the west coast. With his knowledge of venues and of course playing the music and promoting shows, he was integral to helping us mount reggae tours across Canada for Freddie McGregor, Culture, Leroy Gibbons, Fujahtive and short drops with Culture Shock and Chester Miller. As founding chair of the reggae committee at the JUNOS, George also helped to get the word out to west coast artists and helped to make the reggae category beyond the east/central borders."
George had a hand in the career of one of Canada's finest reggae bands, the Sattalites and worked closely with Leroy Sibbles while he was in Vancouver. That was a long time ago and times have changed as has the music. When asked to comment on the current state of reggae and where he'd like to see the music in the next 30 years, here's what Barrett had to say:
"The current state of reggae music has improved over the years, but one has to always look back to where the music came from. In the early years of the music, there was Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae and now, Dancehall; really and truly the music has changed so rapidly. The so-called dancehall music of today is good in some ways-it has opened the door for other people who may have never listened to real reggae music; it opens the door for music such as Bob Marley, Culture, Peter Tosh, Third World, Jimmy Cliff, and Luciano to name a few, to be listened to. Unfortunately, the negative aspect to this current state of reggae and dancehall music is the lyrics these young artists are using. It is not acceptable! The music itself is dance music and young people love it. I am a radio host, DJ and selecta, I have to play some of it, but today reggae dancehall music is all about the bling bling and the money. Producers have to be held accountable for the music that they produce.
I don't think I'll be around in the next 30 years, but if I am, I would be pleased to see somebody start a real reggae festival in Vancouver! I would like to see more venues open up for reggae music and have more commercial radio stations playing the music. I like that on radio you are able to reach a wide variety of people that you normally wouldn't be able to reach and you can dialogue about music and cultures, while having fun."