JIMMY Cliff is a living museum of the development of reggae music, but don't try telling him that. "As an artist, I have to be creative," he says. "It's what keeps me alive. I have never thought of myself as a living museum. Fortunately, the music keeps changing and I am able to change with it. If I had to stay in that one bag all the time I wouldn't know what I would do."His latest album, Black Magic, traces all the phases of reggae right up to today's style, which Cliff calls "dancehall reggae", and it uses many of the artists who have made reggae great. But Jimmy Cliff, 57, goes way back and beyond that, partly because he started out as a musician so early.
Raised in rural Jamaica, the son of a tailor who also farmed, he was simply bursting with the need to become a performer.
Actually, he thought he would be an actor. "I still think I am a better actor than a singer," he says. By TIM LLOYD



The motion to honor the Jamaican reggae legend has cleared a community board and lined up City Council support. The measure would rename Church Avenue — which runs through Flatbush, Kensington and Lefferts Gardens, home to many Jamaican New Yorkers — Bob Marley Avenue. The street also runs through several community boards, which have first say on such matters. A move's afoot to get the city to "Get Up, Stand Up" and rename part of a major Brooklyn street after Bob Marley. PATRICK GALLAHUE


Reggae Grammy award could be split into Dancehall and Roots

In April 2006, the proposal to split the Reggae Grammy category into traditional roots reggae and dancehall segments will be examined once more. The prominence of dancehall has forced at least the thought of the sub-division..
This was not so when Black Uhuru won the first Reggae Grammy for 1984's Anthem and dancehall was seen as not having true international appeal. However, out of the 16 artistes who have won the Reggae Grammy, several have been dancehall performers, specifically deejays.
The change came with Shabba Ranks, who won back-to-back titles in 1991 and 1992 for As Raw As Ever and Extra Naked, respectively. Shaggy followed in 1995 with Boombastic, Beenie Man in 2000 with Art and Life, Damian 'Jr. Gong' Marley in 2001 and Sean Paul in 2003 for Dutty Rock. Roots reggae has come in between, with Burning Spear winning with Calling Rastafari for 1999, and Toots and the Maytals last year with True Love.


Jamaica to declare Marley home a national monument

The Jamaican government will declare Bob Marley's Kingston home a national monument, 25 years after the reggae legend's death, an official said on Tuesday.
Minister of Education and Culture Maxine Henry Wilson said the tribute was in recognition of all Marley had done to promote his Caribbean homeland overseas.
Marley, who died of cancer in the United States in 1981, would have turned 61 this week.
Known as Tuff Gong International, Marley's home is now a music studio as well as a leading tourist attraction.
Marley, who remains one of the most recognizable stars of pop music, was given Jamaica's third-highest national honor, the Order of Merit, shortly before his death. But government officials have repeatedly shied away from calls to name him a national hero.
As a devout Rastafarian, and someone who used marijuana as part of his religious beliefs, Marley ran a long-running crusade for the legalization of the herb known locally as ganja.
No official date has been set yet for the ceremony in which Tuff Gong, which translates loosely from Jamaican slang to tough sound, will be designated a national monument.


Reggae Made From 'Scratch'? Give It a Try

Is Lee "Scratch" Perry the greatest pop music artist you've never heard of? Last year, Perry -- the mad genius of reggae -- appeared at No. 100 on Rolling Stone's list of "The Immortals: The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time," right behind the likes of Guns N' Roses, Carlos Santana and Curtis Mayfield. In the magazine, the Beastie Boys' Adam "Adrock" Horovitz paid tribute to Perry with a loving and amusing essay in which he rhapsodized about the producer-mixologist-songwriter-performer's famously bizarre behavior.By J. Freedom du Lac