Reggae Lacks Grammy Power

Two stalwarts of the local music industry are advising the local music fraternity not to look for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album to be presented during the live telecast any time soon.

The men, former Third World keyboardist and vocalist Ibo Cooper, and renowned music producer Mikey Bennett, were speaking at last Thursday’s staging of Reggae Open University, the panel discussion and forum organised by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) in celebration of February as Reggae Month. They were responding to the perpetual call for the award for the local music genre to form part of the main telecast instead of the pre-show as currently obtains.

Image result for etana at grammysAccording to Cooper and Bennett, the truth is that reggae still lacks the pull and power on the Grammy Awards which is an American product, and therefore it is not likely that this will change any time soon.

“There are many categories that are not shown on live TV. What they consider the bigger categories in terms of the draw and popularity, based especially on the Billboard charts are the ones which are highlighted. So polka, classical, jazz, children’s music and so on are the categories which reggae joins off-air. This has irked a lot of Jamaicans. What I like to say is the rappers and the hip hop artiste fought hard over the years until rap came to the main stage , but the difference is rap is still an American art form, while were are still just a guest,” Cooper explained.

“For me the representatives of our genre just don’t have that kind of pulling power,” Bennett added.

“In these live television productions every 15 seconds matter to the advertiser, the producers of the show and the viewers. Although reggae as an art form is internationally accepted, we don’t have the stars and star power . Even though this year there was a Sting and Shaggy, that’s really what it is. In addition, we don’t have the kind of record companies behind us. A Grammy means more to a record company who spends a lot of money, it had very little to do with the individual. Rap music is selling … rap artistes are selling platinum. So to leave them out of any popular American music expose is suicidal. You couldn’t leave Drake out of a situation like this, for example, because he is selling units. So until we get to a stage where an artiste who happens to be a reggae artiste is one of the number one acts in the world, then we have to accept it. Right now the numbers for reggae and dancehall are embarrassing. We are talking about hundreds… a song at the top of the Billboard Reggae chart may have sold a thousand, this compares to the millions sold by an artiste on top of the Billboard pop charts. So you can see the big, big difference. We don’t really have any strength,” Bennett continued.

Image result for protojeThe Reggae Open University continues this Tuesday and Thursday. On Tuesday JaRIA collaborates with the Poetry Society of Jamaica to pay tribute to dub poetry at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts, and on Thursday the recent inscription of reggae as an intangible cultural heritage will be examined at the Institute of Jamaica.

Source: Reggae lacks Grammy power

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