by Latoya Burnham

Minister of Family Stephen Lashley
Minister of Family Stephen Lashley

The Barbados Government has not instituted any ban on reggae, dancehall or any other genre of music because of the Crop-Over Festival.

Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, made this strong declaration this evening to Barbados TODAY, as reports coming out of Jamaica have hinted at a ban on that country’s music here for the festival.

A report in the Jamaica Gleaner online and published Sunday, June 23 by writer Curtis Campbell, said: “The playing of reggae and dancehall music has been suspended in Barbados. The suspension began on June 1 and will end in the first week of August to facilitate Crop-Over.”

It also quoted 98.1 FM DJ Indian as stating: “This policy has been around for years. We are paying attention to our own local music during Crop-Over. It brings in tourists and builds the carnival feeling. Already we see where it is working, because it gets people into the carnival mood, so right now it’s 100 per cent soca. I would not keep a reggae show in Barbados during this season, because it wouldn’t work. We might feature Aidonia or RDX, but aside from that, it’s just soca. It’s nothing to be taken personally by Jamaicans, but every country has their rules. Reggae rules our airwaves for the rest of the year.”

The story stemmed reportedly from comments by Jamaican promoter Heavy D, who said he had called a local radio station to promote a song and was told that reggae and dancehall would not be played during this period. He and other promoters however, applauded Barbados on what they thought was a policy blocking all foreign music during this Crop-Over period, calling on Jamaica to do a similar thing in Reggae Month or for Reggae Day.

Minister Lashley said though that “Government has not imposed any ban on music”, adding that it has never been done as far as he knows.

He however said it was understandable that radio stations would play more calypso and soca during this period than any other.

“During Crop-Over it is expected that we hear local music and I make no apologies about that. By virtue of the fact that we have the festival, Crop-Over music should play. If they want to play reggae or other music they can do it after. We have to speak up about our festival and music,” said the culture minister.

“In fact, I would like to encourage more playing of local music all around. I would be happy if all that is played at Crop-Over is the music of the festival. It is our festival and we have to support it,” said Lashley.

A few Jamaicans today through social network site Facebook, took exception to what they thought was a ban specifically on Jamaican music, with some comments hitting out at Barbados asking if it was banning hip hop, R&B and other genres or singling out that country’s music.

Pearson Bowen, Head of Radio at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, the media outlet that controls 98.1 FM, redirected this newspaper to the General Manager’s office for comment. General Manager Rodwell London was reportedly out of office at a meeting.

Up to yesterday however, the same radio station and others controlled by the CBC were playing other genres of music, including reggae.

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