Students Explore the Origins of Jamaican Music | Bridgwater & Taunton College

Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC) students were recently subject to an impressive cultural event that explored the rich tapestry of Jamaican music history.

Titled “Jamaican Origins of Sound System Culture”, Dave Chapple’s Red Shadow Sound System arrived at the College’s Claire Bowen theatre, captivating music and history enthusiasts and enriching diverse educational offerings across the College.

Dave Chapple was joined by Paul Collis, Sound Engineer, for an enthralling hour-long session made possible by an exquisite vinyl selection – featuring shellac 78s that are over half a century old.

Opening with the original ska rendition of “One Love” by The Wailers, the event showcased Jamaican music’s pivotal evolution between the late 1940s to the late 1960s.

Students experienced an auditory journey through genres such as ska, mento, calypso and jazz, highlighting their profound influence on contemporary music, including the genesis of rap through ‘toasting’ practices.

Dave was able to share poignant insight on the origins of each song, firmly cementing them within their historical context and explaining how societal and cultural events inspired many of the tracks.

Learning about the origins of reggae and its musical ancestors was an eye-opening experience for many. Understanding how these genres interlink and influence modern music provides an entirely new appreciation for exploring one’s own – and others – roots.

Mark Nettle, Assistant Principal, Student Experience, said,

It was a privilege to host such an informative session, tying into our Diversity Awareness initiatives. Dave Chapple’s dedication to Jamaican and Caribbean music offered our students unparalleled insights into sound system culture and historical context.

Theresa Strange, EDI Coordinator, expressed her enthusiasm,

It was a delight to have Dave and Paul with us, sharing their passion for Jamaican music. Although reggae is probably the most well-known of Jamaican music, it was fantastic for us to hear how other Jamaican music such as ska, mento, calypso and jazz has influenced so many genres and how the practice of ‘toasting’ evolved into rap music.

BTC continues to embrace cultural education, offering students unique learning opportunities that extend beyond traditional classroom settings. This event is just one element of the College’s commitment to fostering an inclusive and informed community.

For more information on future events and BTC’s multitude of educational offerings, please visit or get in touch with the Information & Advice team by emailing

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