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FiWi Jamaica Shaping Young Musicians

Published:Monday | September 5, 2016 | 10:30 AMKimberley Small
Mikey Bennett (left), cultural director of FiWi Jamaica and Dr Rosalea Hamilton (right), director of FiWi Jamaica, flank members of the FiWi Jamaica Band.

The FiWi Jamaica Programme, was birthed by the motivation of music industry veterans as they attempt to create stability within the industry by documenting processes and techniques that will educate young people on how to become successful musicians.

"The FiWi Jamaica Programme is in its pilot stage," programme director Dr Rosalea Hamilton told The Gleaner.

"It's a set of economic and social interventions that address a number of issues that we face here in Jamaica. One of them is the extent to which we can contribute to repositioning our music globally," she explained.


Ultimately, FiWi Jamaica aims for local musicians and aspiring studio engineers to present themselves as businesses - which is what other programme directors believe may allow for smoother, swifter access to the international market.

Mikey Bennett, cultural director of the FiWi Jamaica Programme, told The Gleaner, that he fell in love with Gungo Walk Festival two years ago and saw it as the perfect opportunity to introduce the FiWi Jamaica Band, which is comprised of artistes currently involved with the programme.

"The truth about the Jamaica situation is that, in every boardroom, half of them don't support the music. But I have joined the fight, along with people like Ibo Cooper, and Dr Hamilton," who Bennett describes as a lieutenant in the fight, as they work to finance the programme.

"We say it with no apology, the track and field programme is one that we can follow. It takes a lot of coaching, mentorship and standard-setting and all kinds of things," he continued. "We figure UTech is the right place to have a programme like this. It's a wonderful marriage and the timing is just right."

With this motivation, along with the FiWi Jamaica Programme, the team has worked to develop a masters in residence global competitiveness programme.

"We have served notice to the music industry, all of you that have information and the perspective. We want to put it together within the surroundings of an intellectual place and table it. In other words, it's not about talking, it's being able to share."

Bennett offered that veteran reggae musician Bob Andy has pledged his support, through teaching a songwriting class, along with studio engineer Stephen Stewart, who gives his support by being an engineering coach.

He also told The Gleaner that the FiWi Jamaica Band's performance - as they played together and supported other musical acts - was being recorded for the specific purpose of being used as a teaching aid.

Bennett told The Gleaner that while Dr Hamilton continues the fight to garner financial support for FiWi Jamaica, the management committee is allowed to "dream of a programme or better programmes that will benefit Jamaica".