Support local awards shows!
Ewan Simpson

EWAN Simpson, chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), says locals show little to no support for awards shows.

His statement comes amidst heated debate which sees several locals accusing The Recording Academy for snubbing Jamaicans and giving American reggae group SOJA the Grammy for Best Reggae Album at the recently concluded show in Las Vegas.

“It has been my sentiment for a while that Jamaicans do not support our very own awards shows; I have been saying this for a couple years now, in fact. As the ones who have put on the most enduring local awards, we’ve been going at it, trying to make it happen, with very little corporate support. Thanks to the Chase Fund for their continuous support but many artistes haven’t even showed up to collect their awards. There has also been very little media support. We have been asked by free-to-air TV to pay them to air the programme, and the question is, why would you want us to pay you for broadcasting Jamaican content? You should be the ones paying us! You pay the Grammys to access their content and we have something that is dedicated to us, and we haven’t been seeing the same level of support. For years the Grammy didn’t have the reggae category so why are we so heavily invested in them?” he asked as he spoke with the Jamaica Observer.

Presently, the JaRIA Honour Awards is one of less than a handful of local music awards shows. This year’s staging will be aired on Sunday, April 17.

Over the past 30 years there have been several locally produced awards shows, including the Jamaica Federation of Musicians (JFM) Awards, the Rockers Awards, the Binns Awards, the Youth View Awards (YVAs), the Jamaica Music Industry (JAMI) Awards, the Reggae Academy Awards, and the Excellence in Music and Entertainment Awards (EME), which have all sought to show appreciation to members of the entertainment fraternity.

Simpson believes the appeal of international awards shows lies in preference for foreign brands.

“We are generally foreign-minded; we like external validation. We love the Gucci, and Prada instead of Bill Edwards and Max Brown. We are so glued to the international market…We play the latest songs from Billboard and all the other American charts, whether they’re foolishness or not. How then do we expect them to support our superstars if we don’t?” the chairman questioned incredulously.

Etana, who was also among the contenders for this year’s Best Reggae Album Grammy for Pamoja, shared similar sentiments to Simpson about the lack of support for local awards shows. In a social media post she called for industry players to invest in Brand Jamaica.

“Jamaicans, show support! Buy the albums! Stream the music! Show the world you, from Jamaica, love your own culture and support your own. Radio DJs, play the good reggae music all the way to the end — not the ‘pull-up’ version. Treat the music with love,” she said a day after the Grammy Awards ceremony.

SOJA also beat Sean Paul (Live N Livin), Gramps Morgan (Positive Vibration), Jesse Royal (Royal), and Spice (10) to lift the coveted Reggae Grammy award.

Moving forward, Simpson said he wants to see more attention being shown to Jamaican music, and products.

“I would like to see Jamaican corporate entities realising their duties behind Brand Jamaica. It cannot just be when they’re going on the international stage that we rally behind them. We must employ our entertainers. We cannot call them for events and merely give them some lunch. Employ them so they show up on time, and that they have taxi fare, clean clothes to wear, and will be able to afford services like voice training and strings for instruments. They will be able to afford to hire a manager and agent. Even if you’re not going to pay them top dollar, it cannot be free exposure. I would want corporate entities that have money to invest it in systems that have promise,” he stated.

Ewan Simpson
Kediesha Perry

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