Arts & Culture

Festival Song hopefuls get lecture

Sunday, February 04, 2018

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Members of the performing arts industry are being urged to utilise the financial services offered by the nation's credit unions to manage their financial affairs and organise their retirement plans.

The call came from chief executive officer of the Jamaica Co-operative Credit Union League, Robin Levy, as he delivered the main address at the first 2018 Jamaica Festival Song Competition Developmental Seminar held at Jampro in Kingston on January 23.

Levy outlined a number of services that credit unions make available to musicians, singers, writers, composers, and others who earn a living within the cultural sector.

He told participants: “Many of you who earn a living from the creative sectors do not have a nine-to-five job, and that makes it difficult for you to access financial services and benefits from some mainstream institutions. But the credit union is a people's cooperative, which means that you are lending and borrowing from each other. In many cases there is no registered company and you have to try and navigate your way on an individual basis. The credit union understands how difficult it can be to get investment for creative purposes such as producing music, but there are conversations that you can have with a credit union of your choice that can assist you greatly.”

He also decried the sad state of affairs that often surround the deaths of some entertainers whose financial portfolios have not been kept in good order.

“It's so sad when you have to see hats going around seeking support to bury some of our legends; it is time for this to end. Take charge and take responsibility and don't exchange fame for disgrace,” Levy said.

Other presenters at the seminar, which was geared towards preparing entrants for this year's competition, included singer and songwriter Alaine Laughton, who gave a practical lecture in the art of making a good song.

Djenne Greaves demonstrated the art of stage performance and was well received. Mark Thomas spoke on the important issue of image branding, while reggae superstar Freddie McGregor gave a first-class account of life in the business of music.

McGregor recounted his career from the early days in Clarendon to the formation of his record company Big Ship Productions. He held the audience in awe as he told of the challenges he faced in trying carve out a career as a young singer and the wonderful relationship he had with producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd.

McGregor also endorsed the Festival Song Competition and urged interested participants to write songs that will seek to build a patriotic spirit in the country and lift national pride. He noted that over the years many of the country's successful artists emerged from the competition, but the prize package and stakes are so high now that professional artists should consider participating.

Regional seminars are also being held in the western, central, and northern regions.

Chairman of the Festival Song Committee Vernon Derby said the seminars are very integral to the staging of a professional competition that will see songs of the highest standards vying for pride of place during the Independence season and beyond.

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