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.
Artist Michael Thompson, founder of the International Reggae Poster Contest, recently designed a new logo for the school, which has now also been turned to a T-shirt. Proceeds from shirts not only go to support the school but are being printed by students as well as part of its skills-building program.
LargeUp’s Martei Korley snapped a few pics at a launch event for the T-shirt, held at Alpha Boys this past weekend. Stay tuned for info on how to buy the tees soon.
Michael Thompson, with a poster featuring his new Alpha Ska logo