Call for Dancehall's Day

Observer senior reporter

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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BASED on dancehall music's contribution to Jamaican culture, the call is being made for a month-long celebration of the local genre of music.

This call has come from promoter and artiste manager Junior “Heavy D” Fraser, who argued that dancehall continues to have an impact at home and, indeed, around the world, yet even during the celebrations of Reggae Month in February, this genre is not represented.

“I want fi see a Dancehall Month, because when is Reggae Month, we always get left out. But we know because we don't get the respect dem not gonna give us that, but mek we start with a day... Give we Dancehall Day fi a start,” he told those gathered for the launch of the Dancehall Archives and Research Initiative at the University of the West Indies in St Andrew, last Friday.

Fraser also called on the authorities to understand the value of all genres of Jamaican music and asked for Reggae Month to be taken to a level where Jamaican music is played exclusively on local radio.

“I say give us the music on the radio for Reggae Month. Give our music a chance. You have so much people who live off dancehall and reggae music from the peanut man to the porridge man, the soup man and the families. Is not just the artistes, think about the dancers. Give we one month where only Jamaican music is played on radio and then tell me it caan work. But I go Barbados and them tell me all reggae show off for the next three months because a only calypso music a play. Mi go a Trinidad, dem do the same thing. And Jamaica which have the most music, dem nuh give we nothing ... Why? The Government needs to support the music industry... Why we have a ministry of entertainment? The farmers get assistance to grow food. Yes, we need food but we also need entertainment too,” he said.

Meanwhile, conceptualiser of the archives Professor Donna Hope of the University of the West Indies noted that she is pleased with the general response to the project.

“People are excited and I think that the Dancehall Archives and Research Initiative is timely and well needed. We have to put some structure around our popular culture, around our music but moreso around dancehall culture, because we have to maintain its indigeneity, make sure that people understand its history and encourage research and scholarship. The Institute of Jamaica, through the Jamaica Music Museum, will be collaborating with us and we have received an official letter and we are working on others. But I believe in if you build it they will come, we have to begin somewhere and this is the start of it,” said Hope.

Currently, the archives is limited to a website where Hope and her team have compiled a number of photographs as well as an extensive bibliography which capture events and writings on dancehall culture. She has plans to curate and mount exhibitions on aspects of dancehall such as clothing and fashion which will allow the current generation to see and touch artefacts which represent this genre of music.

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