Christianity is, put simply, a really big deal here. Aside from daily devotions at school, religious studies as a required subject in all public schools and Jamaica’s claim to have more churches per square mile than any other country, the religion is utterly pervasive.
On a recent trip to the local market, my host sister and I were trying to locate a specific vendor. We asked someone at the stall nearest to us, and she replied, “Oh, Monica yuh say? She a Christian?” Apparently that was enough to decipher which Monica we were looking for (there were two nearby).
If you’re not in church on a Sunday, you can be quite sure that you’ll at the very least be listening to some gospel music (willingly, or not). While omnipresent Christian culture is still new to me, it’s definitely something I’ve come to respect about Jamaicans; I’ve encountered many people with an overwhelming sense of faith and hope for what will come.
A few of these gospel songs have really stuck with me, if for no other reason than the fact that they sound nice and are (extremely) catchy! So have a listen and pretend that you’re hearing these play on a blaring sound system from at least 5 of your neighbors’ houses and possibly from the two bars nearest to your house.
“You Make Me Stronger” – Kevin Downswell (this song is legit)
“Break Every Chain” – Tasha Cobbs (gets super powerful about halfway through. that voice!)
“Rooted and Grounded” – Dian Barnett
“Take Me to the King” – Tamela Mann (Grade 6 girls did a dance to this at graduation. They practiced at school. I have heard this song so.many.times.)
Did I miss your favorite? Hehe, Jamaican radio stations (and Jamaicans for that matter) tend to play songs over and over again (sometimes three times in a row) and there seems to be no concept similar to “overplayed.” While I only highlighted gospel music in this post, this country has left quite a few tunes stuck in my head, including “Royals” by LORDE, “All of Me” by John Legend and (unfortunately) “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.