Sisters rock Sweden

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Friday, July 19, 2019

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AT a time when universal women's rights are being aggressively lobbied by movements like #Metoo, the concept of an all-female reggae show should come as no surprise. That groundbreaking event took place last week with the four-day Oland Roots Festival in Sweden.

Organisers of the festival, which is in its 16th year, took a different course by assembling a diverse cast of artistes that included Marcia Griffiths, Etana, Ce'Cile, and Koffee from Jamaica; British singer Hollie Cook, Etzia, an American rapper based in Sweden, and Cherrie, a Danish rapper of Somali descent.

A statement from promoters Oland Roots Organisation said their novel decision paid dividends, as the July 10-13 festival attracted over 6,000 fans to the nature location in Oland, an island off the coast of Sweden.

“The stage performances had overall magnificent quality — maybe the highest in the festival's history. Koffee was one of our biggest attractions and her performance lived up to the expectations. Marcia Griffiths and Dezarie almost choked the audience, putting them in trance-like conditions with their presence,” organisers told the Jamaica Observer by e-mail. “Other fantastic performers were Mo Kalamity, Etana, Reemah, and when Ce'cile entered the stage as closing act, the crowd danced until the ground started to shake.”

A number of Swedish artists, including Syster Sol, Cleo, and Ayla, also appeared on the show.

Male artistes have outweighed their female counterparts on dancehall/reggae shows for many years despite the emergence of forceful acts like Tanya, Stephens, Lady Saw, Patra, Etana, and Spice. That disparity was considered when principals of the Oland Roots Festival began planning for 2019.

“As promoters, the most satisfying aspect of the event is the feeling that we used our platform to make an important step for equality. We hope that by doing this we are encouraging more females to make music and also we hope that other promoters use this as an eye-opener,” the promoters observed. “For so many years we had unequal digits in the booking between male and female and thought that there wasn't enough female artistes to even the numbers. But now, we know we were wrong, and we hope that we can make way for other festivals to follow and raise the quantity of non-male artistes.”


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