f there was ever a theme to dominate the stage over the past year, it is female dancehall and reggae entertainers preaching the importance of banding together – whether by sharing the spotlight on stage or a public show of support for each other.
According to RenÈe Reid, who goes by the stage name Rre, while change is possible, it is being hampered by the constant fight for the number-one spot, but there is a space for everyone. “I personally don’t feel, at present, that there are enough female voices in the arts. There’s a huge gap that can be filled. Those who are active, all have their unique identities, style and preference in music or means of expressing ourselves for the masses to hear,” she told The Gleaner.
She added, “The music industry today is a changed world – now it is really a case of pushing forward to make the opportunities available for each voice – that is possible if there is a show of respect for one another instead of fighting against each other.”
The move to join forces has improved over the years. In the last quarter of 2018 alone, dancehall fans were witnesses to the creation of an all-female stage show organised by Prayer Me Use and Win singjay Dovey Magnum, and also rhythms like Dear Dream Record’s Girls Night Out.
Rre notes, “Unity is strength, and it is about time we embrace all the advantages we have as women, and come together as one. This should be the year for a change – more about creating a sisterhood, although if it is not genuine it will end on a sour note.”
DZL Records’ Kim Nain says that the local music industry is responsible for that division, as it has a tendency to pit artistes against each other.
“Female entertainers shouldn’t have to argue to be part of a line-up or fight over the number-one spot because the industry is large enough for everybody, especially with varying sounds. But the local Jamaican industry makes it seem as if it’s just one spot for whatever reason,” the Deal Wid It singer said.
“When it comes to male entertainers, there’s space for them. But when it comes to the women – I’m not sure if it’s the marketing or what – but it’s presented in a way where ‘perhaps unconsciously,’ it comes off as if it’s only one space for female entertainers,” she said. She continued, “Thus causing the so-called ‘constant fight between female entertainers’, which isn’t true because I find all the women entertainers I know to be quite uplifting of each other, so it’s a false image the industry paints when they do that. It does more harm than good.”
The introduction of social media, she says, adding to the explosion of music streaming, has created more room for female artistes to develop a following instead of fighting for limited airtime.
Meanwhile, dancehall artiste D’Angel says regardless of being outnumbered, the obvious difference in ratio of female to male entertainers should be motivation for more female voices to speak out and increase their presence on the local stages for 2019.
“The cake is big enough for all of us, so it is time recording artistes in general come to the realisation that there is no need to fight over the number-one spot,” D’Angel said. She said that she would rather have friendly competition.