Mikey Bennett, the patriot
WE all should stop and take a page out of Mikey Bennett's book of diplomacy. In all his public utterances since the controversy broke about the 'official' Jamaica 50 song versus a commercial jingle, Mikey has been a model of restraint, sobriety and perfect gentleman. He has continually urged all Jamaicans to be patriotic; to look at the bright side, and so unite in celebrating our 50 years of political independence, as well as bask in the glory of the worldwide popularity of our Jamaican music.
As this producer extraordinaire, has repeatedly pointed out, Jamaica could never have paid for the tremendous international publicity that this controversy has generated. There is a saying in the music business, which carries some merit, that all publicity is good. It has therefore been a blessing in disguise and Jamaica should wisely be maximising on the potential commercial spin-offs that it offers.
On reflection, this would have largely been a non-issue and would not have gone viral nor gained such enormous traction, if our music brand was not so well known, loved and in demand globally. To demonstrate this, Alexander Walford, the European Commission Policy Officer responsible for trade between the Caribbean and Europe recently said "the demand [for Jamaican music in Europe] seems to be almost insatiable."
Over the last 60 years, Jamaica has been credited with creating five new genres of music including mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall. Since Millie Small's song My Boy Lollipop soared to the top of the British charts in 1964, Jamaican artistes have accomplished at least one international hit song every year. From then on, all over the world, generations of music lovers have been listening to our music and adopted many other aspects of our culture. In today's market place it is not simply the music that has a commercial value but it is our lifestyle, our story, our rich narrative that is so appealing to people of various nationalities.
Reggae, therefore, constitutes only one part of a greater Jamaican artistic/cultural whole, in which, admittedly the voice plays an imperative, central role. As many of our public commentators and musical analysts have already suggested, with the attention of the entire planet now squarely focused on Jamaica, this is a perfect opportunity to organise the production of a compilation album of songs incorporating all the various genres, which we have popularised in all the continents. In addition, many artistes have already recorded a number of excellent songs, in tribute to the Golden Jubilee of Jamaica's independence and these should be included. This album should be accompanied by the making of appropriate music videos that capture images of Jamaica's alluring cultural life and beautiful tropical vistas.
This compilation encapsulating our dynamic musical legacy would be a premier coffee table souvenir item, which will have a very long shelf life. Without a doubt, Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora as well as our massive fan base shall take great pride in purchasing and promoting it to their friends and associates. As Bob Marley's song of the century urges 'One Love, One Heart, let's get together and feel alright.'