'Reggae Month needs corporate Ja support'

Ewan Simpson, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), says although Reggae Month celebrations have not received ample support from the private sector, organisers are not disheartened.

"Things have been going well. I would've loved to have seen bigger crowds and I'd love to see more of corporate Jamaica participating, but the people who have come out have enjoyed themselves and people have been asking for more, which means [that] our offerings are good," he told the Jamaica Observer at Reggae Wednesdays, held at Festival Marketplace, downtown Kingston.

The concert, themed 'Love a Dub', was poorly attended. Those who turned out, however, enjoyed the sets by Fahrenheit, D-Major, Vbrtns, Knixx Taylor, Denque, and headliner Glen Washington.

Washington's performance received the loudest cheers. The singer's set included hits such as Kindness For Weakness and Strangers In The Night. He also did Wayne Wade's (cover of) I Love You Too Much, and ignited cheers from the audience when he brought out his wife, Jackie, to perform I Bless The Day I Found You.

Simpson noted that maximum support and reach cannot be achieved if all hands are not on deck to endorse it.

"What we're doing here needs to be embraced more by corporate Jamaica and media because nothing is successful if there's no media support. So, it needs a little bit more embrace from the media and it needs a lot more support from corporate Jamaica because it needs resources to get the word out and to get the plans secured from earlier. We are happy that the UDC [Urban Development Corporation] has given us these venues so we have nice spaces to do them but we need more of that kind of involvement," he added.

As it relates to the roster of talents, Simpson said JaRIA uses the opportunity to expose up-and-coming artistes while giving seasoned professionals a platform as well.

"So the first thing that we do is that we come up with a concept. What do we want to celebrate on a particular week? And then we decide which artistes will embody that concept. Of course, lots of names come in but we have to go with who's available and who would fit the bill and who is willing to make it happen plus we have a principle of ensuring that at least half the show are emerging artistes. So, you would've realised that there are two people that most people wouldn't have heard of before: Knixx Taylor and Vbrtns," he explained.

February is regarded as Reggae Month in Jamaica. It was first celebrated in 2008.

BY KEDIESHA PERRY Observer writer

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