UNESCO City of Music

since 2015

About the Creative City

Kingston is a world renowned centre of musical excellence. Birthplace of 6 distinct musical genres: mento, ska, reggae, rocksteady, dub and dancehall and the careers of music legends such as Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff, Kingston has had and continues to have great impact on the global music scene.  Apart from having the highest number of music recording studios per capita in the world, Kingston offers a unique sound system culture and a number of live music events. The city boasts large-scale international events such as Reggae Month, Grand Gala Emancipation/Independence (Emancipendence) celebrations, International Reggae Day and conferences geared specifically to industry professionals.

Kingston is also home to theatres, international research centres, as well as the premier institution for the Arts in the English-speaking Caribbean: the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts.  The dominance of Jamaican culture and creativity has propelled the government to prioritise the creative industries and music in particular as an engine of economic growth.

Multiple influences on Kingston’s musical lanscape include Rastafari, specifically Nyabinghi drumming, and Christian gospel music, all intimately linked to the city’s spiritual & religious life.  The seventeenth  century Euro-classical composer Samuel Felsted was born in Kingston & was an organist at the Kingston Parish Church. Kingston produces more music per capita globally being the birthplace of 6 musical genres created in the 20th century.  Kingston’s sound system culture has influenced Hip Hop, Blue Beat, Reggaeton, among others.

As a Creative City of Music, Kingston seeks to:

  • Use the creativity of its people specifically in music, as a driver for sustainable urban development.  In particular, the city is focused on using music and the arts to redevelop and revitalize Kingston’s inner city communities.  This will be achieved through conversion of  derelict buildings for use as creative incubators and performance venues to  promote appreciation for creativity and provide outlets for creative expression.
  • Foster cultural exchanges and interaction between Kingston and other Network members through participation in joint programmes and initiatives that meaningfully impact the  creative sectors and change the lives of artists and creators.
  • Develop and support pilot projects that have as their focus community building through the arts.
  • Facilitate policy and programmatic convergence with the National Development Plan, National Cultural Policy Cultural and Creative Industries Policy to achieve Network missions and objectives.


Gillian Wilkinson McDaniel

Senior Director Entertainment

Ministry of Culture Gender Entertainment & Sport 

4-6 Trafalgar Road |Kingston 5 | JAMAICA

T: (876) 978-7654 (o) 618-5145 (SL)

Facts and Figures

Kingston is the capital of Jamaica and the island’s largest city with over 660,000 inhabitants. Founded in 1692, Kingston is situated on the southeastern coast of Jamaica has the world’s 7th largest natural harbor, is home to a major international trans-shipment port and the Norman Manley International Airport. It is surrounded by the Blue and John Crow Mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kingston is home to a diverse population of Africans, Chinese, East Indian, Syrian, Lebanese and Europeans who adhere to various religious and cultural practices, befitting the national motto “Out of Many, One People.” Religion and music are intertwined. Church choirs for example are important places of musical education and music is integral to the Rastafari faith, the only new religion to have emerged in the 20th century.