The M.V. Film Center and the new Island radio station WYOB-FM will join forces to celebrate the birthday of legendary reggae artist Jimmy Cliff on Friday, April 1, at 7:30 pm.
The low-power nonprofit WYOB broadcasts reggae music at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. “The Soul of Martha’s Vineyard Rhythm of the Rock” fundraiser begins with a screening of “The Harder They Come,” the landmark 1972 film starring Cliff. Quickly acquiring cult status, “The Harder They Come” brought the singer, Jamaica, and reggae music international fame.
The event includes a post-film reception with a Jamaican menu that includes appetizers and jerk chicken sliders prepared by Atria chef and owner Christian Thornton, along with Red Stripe beer and rum punch. The Island reggae band Island Thunder will provide music.
Based on a 1940s Jamaican gangster’s life, “The Harder They Come” tells the tale of Ivanhoe (Ivan) Martin, an impoverished country boy played by Cliff. Ivan moves to Kingston to seek fame and fortune and releases the eponymous record that becomes a sensation. After an unscrupulous music producer cheats him out of the record’s profits, Ivan deals marijuana to survive, then turns to a life of crime, which ends in a hail of bullets.
Jamaica’s first full-length feature, director Perry Henzell’s “The Harder They Come” is also the first English-language movie with subtitles in the U.S. to translate its creole patois. It catapulted Cliff to international success, and the singer went on to win a 1985 Grammy award and 2010 induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Bob Dylan called Cliff’s “Vietnam” the best protest song he ever heard, and Cliff has continued to enjoy a successful musical career.
WYOB, at 105.5 FM, operates as a club designed to familiarize students with radio station operation. It will eventually become part of the high school’s Career Technical Education program. Proceeds from the event will support both WYOB and the M.V. Film Center. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased at mvfilmsociety.com.