Coalition to preserve reggae music introduced to Jamaica
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
With its roots already growing in New York, the seven-year old Coalition to Preserve Reggae Music (CPR) has finally been introduced to the Jamaican public.
Last Tuesday, during a press conference at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, CPR's chairperson Sharon Gordon and the organisation's president Carlyle McKetty introduced CPR to those in attendance.
Gordon explained that CPR started seven years ago after they saw reggae music going in the wrong direction.
"It has grown by leaps and bounds. We started off as a group of friends, industry folk who were concerned with where the music was going and what was happening at the time. There were a lot of negative stories coming out. We didn't know what to do, we were just frustrated," she said.
Gordon also explained that around the same time, Emperor Haile Selassie's coronation was coming up, so a decision was made to host a concert. The event, Reggae Culture Salute, has become the organisation's flagship event. Describing the first show as a huge success, Gordon said it was followed by fora and workshops.
CPR is a charitable organisation that works to preserve the art form and its traditional message of healing and unity. The mission of the Coalition is to raise the bar in the creation, development, promotion and presentation of reggae music, to elevate the profile of its purveyors and to research, codify, curate and disseminate information about the genre in order to increase understanding of its development, significance and influence around the world.
For years, Gordon said the intention was to introduce the organisation to Jamaica, and it finally became possible this year.
"It was again one of those divine things. For years, a lot of people would come to New York and we would collaborate with them. We did a forum by Skype with Cordell Green, Freddie McGregor and Lloyd Stanbury, none of them was present at the forum. We kept having situations like that," Gordon told The Gleaner.
After talks with Stanbury, she decided to come to Jamaica for a presentation at the Rex Nettleford Arts Conference at Edna Manley. And, since she would have already been in Jamaica, Gordon thought it was the perfect time to host the press conference for CPR.
"It was like a synergy kinda thing, it wasn't like we sat down and thought about it. It just kinda came together naturally and we ran with it," she said.
At the press conference, it was also disclosed that this year's staging of Reggae Culture Salute will be held in Brooklyn, New York, on November 5. The event will feature acts like Big Youth, Dubtonic Kru, I-Wayne, Qshan Deya, Ancient Vibrators, Major Daps, Coozie Mellers, Songbird Simone and Anthem Band, as well as selectors like Bobby Channel and Sir Tommy's. As part of the festivities the film Bad Friday: Rastafari After Coral Gardens will also be shown. Dubtonic Kru will receive the Simba Award, while Big Youth will be given the Pinnacle Award for Excellence.
Although she believes the event has been successful over the years and would like to bring it to Jamaica, Gordon said much sponsorship would be needed to do this.
"From the first year we did the show, people have been asking us to bring it to Jamaica. To experience our event, it's a family event. Old people come in wheelchairs, young sexy things, my age group and older, children. It's not just a concert. We decorate the place like we are in Jamaica. When you come in you feel like you are in a Caribbean village. And the vibe, the music we play is roots reggae," she said.
But as a charitable organisation, Gordon said CPR is run solely by the annual membership of US$50 (J$4300) per year, donations and the concert. This money is used to offset the cost of running the organisation, its live streams, radio shows and its fora.
While Reggae Culture Salute will not be held in Jamaica in the very short term, Gordon said the long-term aim of CPR is to "move into getting music history and music culture into the curriculum in Jamaica. Our students need to learn music appreciation."
In addition, she said the intention is to visit Jamaica more regularly and build a closer relationship with other organisations like the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes & Affiliates and the Jamaica Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers Limited.