Music to soothe the savage soul
Musicians can be very influential when it comes to getting young people especially to act a certain way; do, wear or say certain things.
And as Barbados and many other Caribbean islands continue to grapple with seemingly growing levels of crime and violence, local and regional entertainers believe they have a greater role to play in helping to influence people not
to take that route.
Bajan Vibes caught up with some of the more popular entertainers across the region recently, and they spoke of the influence of music on the population and what contribution they could play in helping to lower the incidents of violence across the region.
Soca Queen Alison Hinds said she was concerned about the number of criminal activities in Barbados, particularly since the start of the year. And she believes that as the Royal Barbados Police Force continues to tackle the issue, everyone should do their part, acknowledging that change would not come overnight.
“It doesn’t mean that things are going to always work the way you want them to, but at least you know that you are taking the necessary precautions, because that is what we need to do . . . . And if everybody works together, we can push down the violence.
“I think musicians can play a part by not inciting audiences to be violent,” she said.
Over the years, a number of musicians across the region have been blamed for encouraging outrageous and sometimes violent behaviour by the lyrics they use. Hinds believes entertainers ought to take greater responsibility for the message they send.
“We have to be aware of the kind of influence we have. So we have to be careful that we don’t abuse it. We have to be careful that we don’t incite people, because they are under our influence at that point of time when they are listening our music,” she said.
Veteran Jamaican artiste Dobby Dobson, who now sings love songs after starting out as a reggae artist, told Barbados TODAY he was especially concerned about abuse in relationships. He said it was his desire to see all men who abuse their partners stop; and he too believes entertainers can help to encourage that change.
“First of all, I am a Christian who sings love songs, and I don’t see anything wrong with it. I have a project working on right now because I find that too many men in this world are beating women.
“I spoke with a man recently and he said, ‘Some of the women dem deserve it’; but I don’t buy that,” said Dobson.
He acknowledges that music has been responsible for inciting violence in many countries over the years, but he believes it can also be used to “calm the heart of these savage men”.
Dobson said his focus was now on putting together music that would touch “a chord” in men and help them to turn away from abusing their partners.
Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley agreed that entertainers had a role to play: that they should not only be “the messengers of music that relaxes”, but bearers of positive lyrics.
“The artistes also have a responsibility, as messengers of views that inspire people,” Lashley stated.
Adding that all kinds of violence should be denounced, Lashley, who is also the Minister of Youth, lamented there being “some elements of the youth population that have been deviant”.
And he said while musicians could do their part, it was an issue that required the attention of everyone.
“It has to be something that is addressed within the homes. It has to be addressed within our communities; and our churches and community groups must become much more focused on the issue of violence,” said Lashley.
Also weighing in on the issue was Queen Ifrica. She said musicians should ensure they used attractive means of encouraging young people not to engage in violent behaviour.
“So in other words, if an artiste does a song about the fact that there are killings happening, instead of putting killings in the video, you put a solution to the killing,” said Queen Ifrica, adding that children were like sponge.
“So if we really want to make that change, put positive music out,” she added.
Jamaican reggae artist Luciano, born Jepther McClymont, and Barbadian Empress Roli Roachford told Barbados TODAY they too believed entertainers had a role to play in helping to reduce violence and crime.
Stating that music was a “powerful tool”, Luciano said it was a method of inspiration,
and therefore the message sent to people should be positive.
“People will respond, especially young people. Whatever you tell them, they are going to move with it,” he added.