British High Commissioner to Jamaica, Asif Ahmad is expressing consternation about the woeful lack of live Reggae events in Jamaica, particularly in Kingston, which is the birthplace of the genre.
According to the Commissioner, since he assumed office in Jamaica, and became resident in Kingston a few years ago, his cravings for live Reggae has not always been met. “It’s very rare that you hear live Reggae music. Yes, there are Reggae festivals and for tourists in the big hotels… but the essence of creation of the music, the lyrics, the poetry, the rhythm that goes with that music, all of this has to be revived and cherished again,” the Commissioner lamented recently at the Jamaica Observer entertainment awards.he added.
According to Ahmad, the best way to revitalize live Reggae music is to look at the opportunities that exist and take advantage of them.
“People are talking about Port Royal developing, but why don’t we have music cafés? People are talking about food and other places of entertainment, but why can’t we have squares, food courts with a platform where musicians can perform?” he questioned.
Kingston was declared a Creative City of Music by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in December 2015.
Despite that designation, however, musicians, performers, and other players in Kingston’s music industry continue to grapple with a lack of ‘access to spaces and places’ for staging musical events, which is one of the five essential elements of Creative Cities of Music.
According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), in a recent global study, dubbed The Mastering of a Music City, a full range of venues is essential to support artistes for doing live performances, from small basement venues to stadiums and all points in-between.
Over the last few months, musicians have complained and expressed discontent about the lack of entertainment spaces in Kingston, arguing that the music and its earning potential is not being taken seriously by the Government of Jamaica.
Kingston is cited by the UNESCO Cities of Music Network, as a world-renowned center of musical excellence, with a unique sound system culture; the largest number of music recording studios per capita in the world; the birthplace of six distinct musical genres: Mento, Ska, Reggae, Rocksteady, Dub and Dancehall and the careers of the legends such as Bob Marley, Dennis Brown, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff.
Jamaica’s stated objectives proposed for Kingston as a Creative City of Music includes, among other things, using the creativity of Kingstonians as a driver for sustainable urban development and the revitalization of inner-city communities, through the conversion of derelict buildings, for use as creative incubators and performance venues.