Power of music

Using songwriting to combat gender-based violence

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 19, 2017



The power of Jamaica's music to reach our most vulnerable is being utilised in a bid to combat gender-based violence.

The Fi Wi Jamaica project, a national social, cultural, and economic intervention programme based at the University of Technology, Jamaica has organised a songwriting competition in which participants are required to listen to the verse and chorus of a song on the project's social media platforms — Facebook or Youtube then write their own verse, at least 8 lines, to complete the song.

According to Project Director Professor Rosalea Hamilton, the competition has already surpassed all the expectations of the organisers.

“Our music has always proven its ability to reach our people, and we wanted to reach them with a message. We have received hundreds of submissions so far, which is far more that expected. We have had to increase the numbers of finalists. Initially we had decided on one winner per week going into the finals, but due to the numbers we have had to increase the number to two winners per week. As a result, we will now have 18 finalists who will be shortlisted and the winner named at the finals on December 2 at Dump Up Beach in Montego Bay.”

Entries should promote reducing gender-based violence and/or domestic and intimate partner violence; be free from expletives; free from discrimination against race, religion, sexual orientation; and must not promote drugs, weapons, or any form of violent activity.

The weekly winners as well as the ultimate winner will be adjudicated by a panel led by renowned music producer Mikey Bennett. The judges will be looking at lyrical content; innovation and creativity; emotional appeal; rhyming patterns; and the range of captivation — how catchy.

Hamilton is also impressed with the multiplier effect that the competition is having in the Salt Spring community in St James.

“As part of the overall programme, we have been staging a number of gender-based violence workshops in certain communities, and one of these is Salt Spring in St James. It so happened that by co-incidence one of our weekly winners is from Salt Spring and we have seen such a great level of support for the programmes due to this.”

She further hoped that this will be an opportunity to improve the general state of songwriting in the country, so that the music will be able to be played on radio locally and internationally, and also reduce the hate and prejudice which often present in our music,” Hamilton noted.

The final winner will walk away with $100,000; a five-year writer's contract from Anchor Recording Studio, as well as the opportunity to be part of a major production featuring established acts.

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