Words by Jesse Serwer
Today sees the release of Reggae Gone Country, VP Records’ compilation featuring Busy Signal, Beres Hammond, Freddie McGregor and other Jamaican artists covering country and western classics from Kenny Rogers, George Jones, Roger Miller and more. To celebrate, the label is hosting a concert at Breezes Negril in Jamaica tonight, featuring many of the artists on the album. LargeUp will be there documenting it–so stay tuned for more on that later.
Of course, reggae hasn’t just gone country–it’s always been country. The genre is much bigger in Jamaica than most outsiders comprehend and, in fact, has been a staple of Jamaican radio for as long as Jamaican radio has existed. Here’s a look at some of the most memorable country cover versions from Jamaica–and some convincingly Dixie-fied originals from two of dancehall’s biggest names.