Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Martei Korley—
The Alpha Boys School in Kingston, Jamaica is generally acknowledged as the birthplace of ska music. The four original members of the Skatalites—Tommy McCook, Johnny “Dizzy” Moore, Lester Sterling and Don Drummond—got their start in the Alpha Boys band, as did other figures in the music’s development, including Rico Rodriguez. Other notable alumni who have passed through Alpha’s doors include Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, Yellowman and Leroy Smart. Today, the school, run by Sister Susan Frazer, continues to be an oasis for troubled boys in Jamaica, and an incubator for musicians. Its famed music program was even featured in a key scene in the recent Snoop Lion documentary Reincarnated.