An Oral History
“Before reggae there was rock steady, and before that, ska,” writes Cedella Marley in the foreword to Heather Augustyn’s 2010 book Ska: An Oral History (McFarland, 2010). By way of interviews with dozens of ska musicians, Augustyn traces the history of the music from its Jamaican roots, through its 2Tone revival in 1970’s and 80’s England, to its current regional popularity in the United States. She interviewed Derrick Morgan, Doreen Shaffer, Laurel Aitken, Toots Hibert, Judge Dread, Roddy Radiation, Dave Wakeling, Pauline Black, Kix Thompson, and Buster Bloodvessel to name just a few. The book provides a solid understanding of ska as a music with roots in American jazz and soul mixed with the indigenous music of the Carribean. Augustyn’s interviews also highlight the importance of Jamaica’s status as a former colony in the creation of English ska as well as providing an insight into the music’s reflection of British and Jamaican race and class relations. Most importantly, Ska gives voice to many of the artists responsible for the creation of one of the most enduring musical genres of the last fifty years.
Heather Augustyn is a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including The Village Voice, In These Times, and The Humanist.