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Industry Insiders weigh in on Hall of Fame talks

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMShereita Grizzle
Junior Lincoln
Winston 'Niney' Holness
Neil Robertson

For more than two years, there have been talks of the country possibly establishing a reggae hall of fame, and since the idea arose, many Jamaicans, including several persons from the music fraternity, have been in support of the idea. However, between the time the idea was first mentioned, to present day, little has been done to ensure the plan goes beyond word of mouth. Industry insiders have weighed in on the issue, as they believe the time has come for Jamaica to put the money where the mouth is and get the ball rolling before another country runs with the idea.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Junior Lincoln, finance director, Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), said that a reggae hall of fame in the home of reggae music is long overdue.

"It is a good idea, and one that is long overdue," he said. "Reggae music is international, and people from all over the world will pay good money to have the unique experience of seeing the music come to life in the place that gave it life."

Lincoln went on to express that the country that gave reggae music to the world - Jamaica - has not done enough to capitalise on the business of the music. He said that the country should make the latter its main priority before another country steps in to reap the benefits of something Jamaica created.

"They (other countries) have already begun to reap success from making reggae music, and it's only a matter of time before they think of establishing a reggae hall of fame in their own country," he said. "The other countries that have been capitalising on reggae music have realised that it is a business and have figured out how to properly market their product. Jamaica needs to catch up on this before it's too late, because as it is now, we still have time."


strong ja-reggae link


Music-industry veteran Neil Robertson, who has worked with numerous artistes, including Beenie Man, Luciano, Sizzla, and more recently, Jesse Royal, also gave his views on establishing a reggae hall of fame. While agreeing that Jamaica has not done enough to market Brand Jamaica to the wider world, he said he doesn't see another country copying the idea of a reggae hall of fame.

"I go to many festivals all over the world and see 20,000-plus people - all with interest in Jamaica - and never see Brand Jamaica's presence," he explained. "I don't see another country jumping at this idea, and reggae is still closely tied to Jamaica, so this (hall of fame) is something the Government could fund that promotes Jamaica and the music."

He further said that while a hall of fame would make a great tourist attraction, it would do little to convince the naysayers that Jamaica is still the home of reggae. "In terms of sending a message to the international music industry, the only thing that can do that is new music and talent that touches the world."

JaRIA's Lincoln, however, disagrees. "New music is important, but I believe without a doubt that a hall of fame would help Jamaica to take back the business of the music and reaffirm its place as the home of reggae," he said. "We still have time to do it. It's not too late. Jamaica is still respected for creating reggae music, and we still have people doing good music. We just need to do more."

Experienced record producer Winston 'Niney' Holness agreed, stating that a hall of fame is exactly what the music industry needs right now.

"That is the only thing we short of here. If you look at most of the other genres of music, they have a hall of fame, and reggae is just as big globally, so why not?" he said. "Anytime Jamaica can get this done, we gone heavy out deh".

When asked to state a preferred location to house the hall of fame, there were mixed responses. Niney said that the North Coast would be the ideal location as tourism is already booming in the area, and that would make it easier for the project to turn over profits. "It's a moneymaking thing, so why not go where the money is already?" he questioned. "It can't be Kingston, because the money is already on the north coast, plus people don't really view Kingston as much of an attraction, so there would be very little interest if it was put there."


perfect location


Lincoln again disagreed. Citing the recent developments in downtown Kingston as the reason behind his view, Lincoln said the Government's efforts to restore the area as the country's business and entertainment mecca would make it the perfect location. "If downtown Kingston develops the way it is supposed to, then that's where it (the hall of fame) should be. Kingston is full of history; this is where most artistes/entertainers get their big break. If you should check it, the country's music industry was born in Kingston, so having something of that magnitude established in Kingston is a no-brainer."

Robertson was indecisive. "I see positives in having it in Kingston, as that is where most of the artistes, producers and managers are based. However, to reach tourists, being in Montego Bay or Ocho Rios with the other tourist attractions is a plus."

When posed with the question of who should fund such a project, Lincoln, Niney and Robertson all agreed that the responsibility should be shared. Lincoln said the project should be led by the Government, and that industry players and artistes should also play a role.

"I don't believe in the government giving the music industry anything, but I do believe in them investing in the industry. The project would be a moneymaking thing and, as such, entertainers and other persons in the industry should be open to investing in it also, as the benefits will extend to everyone in the long term."

Niney also believed the funding of the project should be everyone's responsibility. "It shouldn't be left up to the Government alone, because with the economic situation, it may never materialise. Therefore, if we want to see it happen, then everyone should get involved."

Robertson said who participates in funding depends on where the hall of fame is located. "If the hall of fame is in Kingston, then I see the Government getting involved. If it's in a tourist area, then I could see more private-sector funding, as it's a tourist attraction."

The interviewees all believe that persons selected to be inducted in the hall of fame, should it materialise, are persons who have made significant contributions to reggae music across the board, whether they are entertainers, producers, engineers, managers or record labels.