Toppa Top 50: Fifty Great Jamaicans

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Words by LargeUp Crew—


Today marks 50 years since Jamaica was granted its independence from England, beginning its swift transition from a colony into a cultural capital. The level and pace of musical innovation that followed independence was astounding. Within a year ska was born; a decade later, reggae was taking over the world, becoming the global soundtrack for a good time, and establishing Jamaica as more than a country but also a cultural brand. In recent years, the country has become nearly as well known for its athletes as for its musicians, but Jamaica’s contributions to the world run so much deeper than songs and exciting gold medal finishes. Here is an alphabetical look at 50 significant Jamaicans whose influence has been felt in major ways on both a local and global scale, from politicians and painters to poets and scholars.

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10 Responses

  1. Victoria

    Fastinating – a learning experience, but difficult to page thru…

  2. Victoria

    Thought provoking, but the more I think about the selections I wonder…was there not a chef, dancer, architect, etc. that could have made this list which is heavy on music…

  3. Jesse

    There are several dancers on this list: Rex Nettleford and Mr. Bogle. Also lots of actors, politicians, artists, scholars, authors, athletes. Jamaica excels in music so there were just some names that couldn’t be left off. Architects not so much but if there’s some we’re remiss in not including, by all means let us know.

  4. Victoria

    Appreciate the additional infomation. Some of the notibles I attributed to Jamaica are from other Caribbean Islands – I checked. All in all a learning experience and thank you…

  5. LadyDi

    I sure would have loved to see Reggae Artist Shaggy in this list. Only Diamond (larger than Gold) selling Caribbean/Reggae artist to date, that I know of. Him and his musical team give much support yearly to the Bustamante Hospital which is a tremendous aid to the children and their families who utilize it. So much more I could add but these are just my thoughts as a long time supporter of his.

  6. Jacqui

    Quite surprised & dissapointed that Shaggy isnt on the list especially as he’s a World reknown Reggae Artist for his music and involvement in the supporting the Jamaican Reggae scene & charity work with the Childrens hospital!!

  7. Chris

    “Ditto” Lady Di and Jacqui. Shaggy is a hard working artist who supports many newcomers into the business. His involvement with charities, especially the Childrens Bustamante Hospital, is invaluable. He really should have been included in the list ……not saying others dont deserve to be there, just that HE should have been one of them !

  8. Eliot Salkey

    How is it possible to discus a list of great Jamaicans without happening upon Andrew Salkey?


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