Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, says she is concerned about the fact that Jamaica’s output of female artistes is very small and has vowed to do her utmost best to increase the numbers.
Speaking against the background of the low representation of women artistes at the recently-held Rebel Salute Reggae festival, Grange said that even the well-established artistes are few in numbers. She said the more prominent female artistes “primarily leave for tours” and, as a consequence, are unavailable for many of the local events held on the island.
“There are some young female artistes coming up who are extremely good but we need more,” Grange, who is a former manager of dancehall icons Patra, Shabba Ranks, and Bounty Killer, had said.
As a consequence, the former Shang executive said she has made it a point of her duty seek and find talented female artistes in order to increase the percentage of women who are booked to perform on some of the major Reggae festivals within the island.
“It is a mission that we going have to be on and it’s an important one; I made the decision to search for the artistes, work with them, help them develop and get exposure for the purpose of seeing the numbers change,” she told the Gleaner newspaper recently.
According to Grange, Jamaica has to get more female artistes out “in the streets, on charts and on stage,” representing the various Jamaican genres.
“It cannot be reduced to Dancehall only, but about all the genres that have over the years helped to produce Jamaica’s music. I am going to produce that,” she stated further.
The Minister who is also the Member of Parliament for St. Catherine Central, also noted that the collection of music referencing the empowerment of women is limited, but pointed out that this could be drastically improved if more women, both up-and-coming and established, were being afforded the opportunities to explore their talents. She said this would result in the nation having good songwriters and performers who can ‘carry the message.’
She also noted that Jamaican music is not just about the rhythms or beats to the sings, but the messages and to what extent songwriters are able to pen songs with good lyrics “and produce the kind of music needed to convey it that people will listen to, understand and be empowered.”
“It is not impossible,” Grange, who celebrates her 74th birthday in April, said.