5 Facts – World Music Day

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This Fact Friday is all about music.

Today, June 21, marks the official start of the summer season in the northern hemisphere. This is because it is the summer solstice, a day when the sun’s rays directly strike one of the two tropical latitude lines. Historically, the solstices have been marked by various festivals, holidays and other special events. The summer solstice ‘holiday’ is World Music Day, which originated in France as ‘Fête de la Musique’ in 1982. Since then, the idea has spread worldwide and is now celebrated in more than 104 countries and 514 cities.

  1. Summerfest, also known as ‘The Big Gig,’ is staged annually in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and is marketed as the world’s largest music festival. It is held over 11 days with 11 stages featuring some 1,000 performances. Between 800,000 to one million music lovers flock to the festival annually. This year’s fest runs from June 26 to July 7.
  2. In 1957, RCA recording artiste Harry Belafonte’s Calypso, released in 1956, became the first album to sell more  than 1,000,000 copies. This achievement was marked by the presentation of a gold record, which, at the time, was presented by an artiste’s label. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) trademarked the term ‘Gold Record’ in 1958 and created a standard award criteria. The first ‘official’ Gold Record single was awarded to Perry Como for Catch A Falling Star.
  3. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is widely regarded as the best selling album of all time. Sources differ on the number of copies sold worldwide, but in 2009, 28 million copies of the album had been shipped in the United States, according to the RIAA. Jackson’s sixth studio album, it contained mega hits such as Billie Jean, Beat It, Wanna Be Starting Something and, of course, Thriller. 
  4. The Grammy Award for Best Reggae Recording was first presented in 1985 to the Jamaican group Black Uhuru. The name of the award was changed to Best Reggae Album in 1992. Stephen Marley has won the award a record six times (three times as a member of the band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers).
  5. Exodus, Bob Marley‘s seminal album, was named Time Magazine‘s Album of the Century in 1999 and his most popular song, One Love, was chosen as BBC’s Song of the Millennium the same year.

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