Though he had little experience as a journalist, Camille Monchicourt was undaunted when he launched the French unitedreggae.com website in 2007. It has since become one of the leading sources of roots-reggae.
Recently, unitedreggae.com observed its 10th anniversary by launching Jamaica Callaloo Sessions, a series of videos that capture an acoustic jam in St Andrew in February 2016.
The 33 videos capture seven Jamaican bands performing in spontaneous, unplugged form. The bands are EarthKry, Pentateuch, Uprising Roots, Rootz Underground, Adahzeh, Raging Fyah and Dubtonic Kru.
Monchicourt told the Jamaica Observer that his website has exceeded expectations. “We are glad/proud to have been covering and promoting reggae music and culture all over the world since 10 years with hundreds of interviews, reviews, reports and news.
We helped to discover new artistes and followed their careers, but could also dig deep into many veterans history to share it with everyone,” he said.
While unitedreggae.com features some dancehall acts and events, its priority is roots-reggae which is the Jamaican sound of choice in France and Europe. Younger artistes like Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Jah9 and Kabaka Pyramid get extensive coverage, but old warriors such as Pablo Moses, Winston McAnuff, Clinton Fearon and The Congos get the lion's share of content.
They are the artistes Monchicourt, 34, has listened to for 25 years. From Toulouse in southern France, he discovered reggae through his parents who were big fans of Jamaican music and culture.
He noted the changes his company has gone through in a decade.“There has been some changes in the authors and photographers which has been growing with more people from all over the world. There has also been changes in the way people are using the Internet, with the rise of social networks, with its good and bad sides,” Monchicourt explained. “We could also mention the rise of videos on the Internet which motivated us to create our own video content and series.”
Some of that content includes Jamaica Callaloo Sessions which comprises 22 songs, a video presenting the recording of the project, interviews and preparation of Ital food by chanter Derajah.
Given the impact of food on Jamaican music, Monchicourt and his team believed it was important to add a culinary segment.
“We wanted to share a moment all together, united as a family. In the morning we headed Downtown Kingston with Derajah and Ras Kelly to the Coronation Market to buy fruits and vegetables, which we cooked Ital for almost 100 guests,” he said.