'Sumfest gave me my break'
Next month, Reggae Sumfest will celebrate its 25th anniversary. As the world gears up to once again once again turns its eyes to the reggae capital of the world, The Sunday Gleaner reflects on the legacy of one of the greatest reggae shows on Earth.
By hearing from some of the entertainers who have graced the Sumfest stage over the years, The Sunday Gleaner will reflect on the show's legacy in the weeks leading up to the 25th staging. This week Mr Vegas, one of the most popular names in dancehall and reggae music reflects on his Sumfest journey.
Mr Vegas has performed at Reggae Sumfest more than 10 times. He believes the show has done well and explains that the rich musical offerings it has served up each year have helped the show cement its place as one of the greatest reggae festivals in the world.
"Reggae Sumfest is the platform for artistes to get international recognition. My first year at Reggae Sumfest propelled me into the mainstream market," he said. "I think Johnny Gourzong and his team did a great job of preserving the brand over the past 20-plus years and I believe it will only get better with the new organisation."
The I Am Blessed singer told The Sunday Gleaner that although he has performed on Sumfest multiple times and has many fond memories, his last performance in 2013 holds a special place in his heart. "My first Sumfest was good innu because I remember that year Bounty Killer and Beenie Man were on fire," he recalled. "But my last one was my most memorable when me inna me big heel boot and me bell foot pants. That year everybody was taking up census that I was going to go out there and flop but God prove them wrong."
Vegas says although he is happy for the opportunities that Sumfest has provided many artist, he would love to see the day when the show focused more on singers than deejays. He explained that most patrons who go to a show like Sumfest come out for authentic reggae music and the latter can only be provided by talented singers. "Singers like Beres Hammond and Sanchez dem we a talk, but I guess real singers nah buss again a just bare auto-tune artistes a come out," he said.
Explaining that perhaps the organisers were on to something when they put a halt on international night. "International artistes are too diva. We just need to bring back the Singers' Night and force the artistes to start sing again. We have real talent in Jamaica dem just want a buss," Vegas said.
Vegas highlighted the need for more festivals like Reggae Sumfest, pointing out that such huge platforms are needed in the industry to keep the entertainment fraternity supplied with talent. But while he believes there is a need for more shows, Vegas also believes the number of talented artistes able to pull out a paying crowd is limited. Therefore, he said, entertainers must do better to come up with material that people will pay to hear and perfect their stage craft so patrons will want to watch them perform.