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Level the singing field


by Leigh-Ann Worrell

Barbadian reggae artists do not need a Bajan Reggae Night in order to shine; they simply require the recognition they deserve and a level playing field.

This was the sentiment shared by artists backstage at Sunday’s Digicel Reggae on the Hill, held at Farley Hill National Park. This year, the night dedicated to showcasing local reggae talent was placed on hiatus due to financial reasons, FAS Entertainment’s Al Gilkes said at the launch of the four-day event.

“For some reason, there is always Bajans at the top and Jamaicans at the end. You are saying the same thing every year but if you don’t, you are not being responsible to the artists. That sh** gotta stop,” asserted singer/songwriter Indra iNDRANi Rudder.

“They put the Bajans first and then on the roster it says the show starts at 3. That is more than insulting it is disrespectful and rob yourself of the opportunity to experience Bajan artists… If this is the only platform, then you really gotta push and balance out. A lot of people came earlier this year, so something is happening when those people would know at a certain time we would be on and gone.”

While grateful for the platform, Indra believed the placement of local artists on the show gave rising reggae musicians little to look forward to, other than “the bottom of a flyer or the earliest part of the show.”

“You gotta show them what to reach for from themselves because if you show them from other people, they will never believe for themselves,” she stated frankly.

In her opinion, artists like Buggy Nhakente should be in the “belly of the festival” since he has already been able to receive international recognition for his music.

This year, Indra has released an acoustic album, and is awaiting the release of reggae projects produced by Mr.Vegas and another with Stone Love out of Jamaica.

She does not agree with the concept of a Bajan Reggae Night, adding, “then you would also have to say Jamaican Reggae on the Hill… We should just call it reggae music, conscious music for whoever falls in that category because you are leaving out Antigua or St. Kitts [for example]. If you are calling it a regional thing, then make it more regional.”

Fellow female reggae artist Roli Empress Roli Roachford also agreed that Bajan acts should be mixed among the Jamaican acts as a way of showcasing the local vibe to a bigger audience.

“Bajans move late. So if we come on a little later it would expose us and our music. Music only becomes a hit when it becomes familiar. People are not gonna warm up because it is not familiar,” the 2013 Barbados Music Awards People’s Choice winner told Bajan Vibes in a separate interview.

However, up and coming artist Damien believed “more good” can result from hosting the Bajan Reggae Night.

“They were still at the Reggae on the Beach and on the Hill and some of us were at Vintage, but I believe we should have our own night and own show. But I don’t believe it hindered the artists because we still came out and had a great time and put on a great show and people was able to see the talent we had to portray,” he said. While the Bajan Reggae Night was created by FAS Entertainment, LRG, the newly crowned Digicel Reggae People’s Choice was of the opinion that other promoters could take initiative and do something similar.

“It’s just a Bajan Reggae Night. Anybody could promote a show and call it that. It doesn’t have to be FAS Entertainment. It is just for reggae artists to come together and link and do what we supposed to do. All we does study is who harder dan who, but music is more than that. Music is more mystical than them petty things,” he remarked.

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