Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
Years after launching Reggae Month, Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) executive director and vice-chairman, Charles Campbell said the event is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner about the recently concluded staging of Reggae Month, Campbell said the month was a successful one.
"This year I think we have finally achieved the objective of firmly establishing the Reggae Month brand both internationally and in Jamaica," he said.
Campbell added that the support for the event has grown tremendously with patrons and media coverage coming from places like North America, Asia, Germany, Japan, France and Britain.
"I think we made a significant leap forward in transforming Reggae Month into a national festival and into a tourism product. We can truly say that it was a Jamaican festival to which the world was invited," Campbell told The Sunday Gleaner.
Plagued by low support from the private and some public sector bodies and the media over the years, Campbell said he is pleased with this year's results.
"I feel personally vindicated," he said. "As JaRIA, we stuck with our plan and concept of highlighting all the various genres of Jamaican music throughout the month. We have proven to the critics that the concept is a winner."
He added: "We have finally gotten some traction from media houses. We got tremendous opportunity for publicity. That, in itself, helped to bring the festival into the homes of Jamaica and internationally."
Campbell noted that the Reggae Wednesdays, held at Emancipation Park every Wednesday during February, had more than 5,000 patrons weekly. The Dennis Brown concert that was held in downtown Kingston at the end of January had about 6,000 patrons, while the LIME-sponsored Trench Town Rock concert had approximately 8,000 patrons. He also said a symposium was held and the response was overwhelming. A new event to the roster, Sound System Explosion, also went well.
Needs more support
However, Campbell believes Reggae Month still needs more support. He said private sector's assistance has not been as high as he hoped, with most of the help still coming from public sector groups.
He said more help is needed because, "JaRIA on its own produced 22 events in February and we endorsed other events, bringing the total to 83 events in all."
In addition, he said Reggae Month needs to be celebrated islandwide.
"Reggae Month needs to become an islandwide phenomenon. Most of our events were concentrated in Kingston. Now we have to decentralise Reggae Month so that Reggae Month activities can occur in all the parishes. The support from the private sector is very critical in doing this," he said.
The vice-chairman said JaRIA is also working hard at exposing other Jamaican genres. And, he believes Jamaicans need to highlight and protect its music.
Despite the shortfalls, Campbell said the month brought out a feeling of patriotism.
"One of the things that came out of Reggae Month was this tremendous feeling of patriotism. Everybody enjoying Jamaican music in the park weekly reinforces the feeling that Jamaica is the best little country in the world," he said.