Mon | Jul 15, 2019

Business or politics? - Entertainers performing on the campaign trail

Published:Saturday | September 22, 2018 | 12:00 AMAkeem Masters/Gleaner Writer
Rygin King
Tony Matterhorn

Whenever on the campaign trail, or other political events such as rallies, both political parties tend to employ the services of popular entertainers.

In recent weeks, artistes such as Teejay, Rygin King and Wayne Marshall have graced political platforms, bringing with them a dancehall-like atmosphere.

However, according to representatives from both major political parties, a number of factors are considered before these artistes are engaged.

Julian Robinson, general secretary of the People's National Party, told The Gleaner that his party tend to select entertainers who have values in keeping with those of the party.

"Based on the music, the consciousness, the songs that an entertainer sings, whether it is consistent with our own values, and whether them coming would provide some kind of vibe to the meeting that we have," he said.

He added, "We have entertainers who have performed at events for both parties so it does not necessarily means that they are necessarily a supporter of the party."




Robinson said that most entertainers do not publicly declare a preference because they want to remain neutral and they want to appeal to a wide cross-section of persons.

"Sometimes people volunteer, sometimes they ask for a fee - depending on what they do and how long they are gonna be on," he said.

Delano Seiveright, a member of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, said that one superseding factor is what song has the 'hype' at the time.

"We try to encourage artistes who are at that level, where they have hits - who people love, especially on the trail. We get them to come to our events," he told The Gleaner.

Another reason, he says an entertainer may choose to perform at a political event is based on the relationship that they may have with some members of the party.

"Artistes have their different persuasion. For some, it is not political. Some may be because they have a good relationship with members of the party, and they would do it as a friendly gesture," he said.

Seiveright added that having entertainers at party events is more of a treat for the audience rather than a ploy to 'drum up' more support for the party.

"It tends to be a surprise to rile up the crowd. It is not that the entertainer draws the crowd, it is always a treat for the audience to have a popular entertainer," he said.

"It gives a vibe to the meetings and it is good to diversify your meeting with different offerings, so it is not all politics - there is something else that some people will love and appreciate."

Selector Tony Mattheron feels the political climate in Jamaica has improved to the point where artistes perform at political parties or even boldly throw their support behind a party, without much backlash.

"I think it is good nowadays because politics is not what it used to be. Back in the '70s, if yuh ago do dat, yuh know which side a di fence yuh fall," he said.

"Nowadays, artistes perform at political rallies and it don't have no big impact on the artiste," he said.