Altar call for dancehall
BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer reporter email@example.com
WITH the image of dancehall music taking a beating after the March 13 conviction of deejay Vybz Kartel and three accomplices (Andre 'Mad Suss' St John, Kahira Jones and Shawn 'Shawn Storm' Campbell) for murder, members of the gospel fraternity believe it is time secular artistes and fans seek salvation.
Gospel deejay and pastor Goddy Goddy (given name Howard Reynolds) says dancehall music has failed the youth miserably.
"I do believe that it's not just now, but it's about time we take over things and deal with it because of the negative impact dancehall has been having on our younger generation and the society overall," Goddy Goddy declared.
But the toaster, best known for favourites such as Chaka Chi, Mi Nuh Sure and Back It Up, said gospel music has always had its own place whether Kartel is in jail or not.
"He (Kartel) calls himself the World Boss but God is the only World Boss. That (Kartel being put away) doesn't stop or enhance the work of God," he said.
Thrillers United and former Grace Thrillers singer Leroy Smith says gospel should have been at the forefront of Jamaican music from day one.
"Gospel is all about bringing the good news and that is what the world needs, whether Kartel is there, yes or no," he stressed.
Smith joined Grace Thrillers in 1978. His distinct tones can be heard on Can't Even Walk, Amen and He Brought Me Out.
For him, had gospel been embraced more by secular fans the local music scene would have been different.
"I still maintain that in the eyes of many Kartel was never an influence where gospel is concerned. Just because one of the biggest influences in the dancehall world is out, doesn't change the position that gospel has been in," he said.
As for the popular notion that dancehall music has lost its way, Goddy Goddy disagrees.
"It's the artistes who have lost their way. Music in itself is innocent, music just don't get up and create itself. Music will always be here," he said.