Entertainment

Music confab begins on high note

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor —
Auto & Entertainment
bonittob@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, November 12, 2017

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DESPITE the heavy rains that drenched the Corporate Area last Thursday, it was 'all systems go' at Jamaica Music Conference's Conscious Reggae Party, which took place at Nanook on Burlington Avenue in St Andrew.

The occasion, which saw several acts in performance, also doubled as the confab's official media launch. It is slated to end today.

Event coordinator Joan Webley said she was undeterred by the dark clouds that hovered.

“We weren't cancelling! We dweet fi love, we nuh dweet fi the likes. We are very encouraged with the way things are going so far. The launch is completely rained out and yet the people are here. Rain or shine, we must continue,” she told Jamaica Observer.

“What we're trying to point out is the narrative can be so negative, and it can say that 'Nothing is happening'... But what the Jamaica Music Conference wants to signal to the world and ourselves is a positive message: 'The future of music industry looks amazingly bright',” she continued.

Now in its fifth staging, Jamaica Music Conference's theme this year is 'Reclaiming Our Identity'.

Webley said this year's summit had more Diaspora input than previous ones.

“I think that whether it be out of necessity, whatever reason, I think the kind of collaboration needed to move our industry forward is happening now. And when I say collaboration, I mean diaspora and local working together, and I think that is what makes this conference different. This conference is planned by a group of persons in the music industry, some of whom are based here in Jamaica, others are based in Atlanta, DC, different states, different countries, and it helps us to create a conference that is well rounded,” she said.

“We have a panellist from Australia, we have a panellists from Canada and the UK, and were very interested in their perspective. But, the overwhelming amount our experts are Jamaican-born; they may have grown elsewhere and may have other experiences. So we're listening to ourselves in a way that we haven't done before. I think that's necessary,” Webley continued.

Jamaican-born, Canada-based artiste-manager Karen Stewart is attending the confab for a second year in a row. She explained why it is important for her to be here.

“I'm here for the Jamaica Music Conference. I also manage singer-songwriter Chelsea Stewart, a second-generation Jamaican. I'm also a member of the Diaspora... Reggae music is very important [in] reflecting us as Jamaicans; we are culture giants. I'm happy we can all come together and through networking, we can all strengthen the next generation,” she said.

Her charge, Chelsea, also highlighted the conference's importance.

“I'm a Jamaican-Canadian. It's a chance for me to experience my culture first -hand. I was raised by a Jamaican woman. To come here and witness beautiful people, beautiful music, and wonderful food — it's a pleasure. Everytime I come here it's a blessing. I sing reggae music and jazz. So it's important for me to come here and experience authentic Jamaican music. I even came here to work on my first album. I worked on it with Sly and Robbie; it's gonna be released next year,” she said.

The occasion saw performances from acts including Nadine Sutherland, Ras Slick, Nateesha Stream, and Equinokk featuring Shanice Marie.

Earlier in the day, the conference visited Alpha Institute in Kingston and St Jago High School in Spanish Town. The latter saw students from Bog Walk High in St Catherine and Pembroke Hall High being part of the session.

“We had the students actually filling out surveys. Coming from this we'll have meaningful results and tangible feedback from the next generation as to what they see for themselves in the music industry,” said Webley.

“I'm pleased with the rate of growth of the conference. I'm pleased as we've organised much better than last year. We're communicating with our audience much better than last year, so we're heading in a good direction,” she added.

Today's session at Board Walk Beach in Portmore will look at: The Role of a Manager and the Need for Proper Management; The Global Impact of Jamaican Music; and a one-on-one discussion with music insider Copeland Forbes. The first session begins at 1:00 pm.

The conference culminates at Kingston Dub Club on Skyline Drive in St Andrew.

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