Chris Kjorness on How Reggae Defeated Mambo


Credit: Monosnaps / / CC BY-NC-SA

At the height of mambo fever in the 1950s, you would have been laughed out of the room had you predicted that comparatively tiny and impoverished Jamaica would soon become a dominant force in global music, while the Caribbean's longstanding cultural capital of Havana, Cuba fell into irrelevance and decay. But the rise of communism and its attendant cultural protectionism soon choked off mambo and Cuban creativity at the source, writes Chris Kjorness, while Jamaica's economic boom and unfettered recording industry uncorked a revolutionary new music called reggae.