Adrian Frater, News Editor
Just weeks after announcing that Western Consciousness, western Jamaica's premier one-night roots/rock/reggae concert, will be staged outside of Westmoreland for the first time in its 25-year history, promoter Worrell King has announced a major sponsor for the upcoming event.
"I am pleased to announce that Jamaican-born, Britain-based entrepreneur/reggae artiste, Levi Roots is on board as a major sponsor," said a delighted King, the CEO of King of Kings Promotion, the promoters of the annual concert. "This is the first time we have managed to attract this level of sponsorship, so we are naturally very pleased."
When contacted for an explanation as to why he decided to throw his sponsorship support behind the concert, which will be staged at the Catherine Hall in St James, on Saturday, April 13, the innovative Levi Roots, who was one of the acts on last year's 24th staging, said it was an easy decision for him to make.
"I am very excited to have my name linked to a major musical event in Jamaica ... it is something I have been dreaming about for a long time," said Levi Roots, whose Reggae Reggae Sauce is the largest Caribbean food brand in the United Kingdom. "Besides, I recognise that Mr King is a hard worker, so it was an easy decision to put the power of my brand behind this event."
Levi Roots said he particularly welcomed the opportunity to establish this tie with Jamaica because of the fantastic support his products have been getting from the Diaspora, which has seemingly fallen in love with the more than 50 products, including sauce, pizza, soft drink, tea, peanut and soup, that falls under the Reggae Reggae brand.
"The support I have been getting from Jamaicans abroad is phenomenal," said Levi Roots, who said a part of his mission is to inspire Caribbean people with ambition. "I think I am blessed because I have managed to put my two passions - food and music - together, so I feel duty-bound to offer help where I can."
While he has not revealed the actual amount he will be pumping into Western Consciousness, promoter King said it will adequately cover the multimillion- dollar budget to secure the artistes, who he plans to use on what should be a star-studded package.
"Levi Roots input will cover the budget to secure artistes, which is a welcome relief because that is one area in which we have struggled over the years," said King. "While I will not name any figure, let us leave it as a substantial amount, which we consider as being adequate."
In addition to giving promoter King what he has described as, "some much-needed strength," as the astute businessman he is, Levi Roots, whose business was estimated to worth £30m last year, plans to use his association with Western Consciousness to further expose his brand to the Jamaica market.
"As a businessman, I am always looking out for new business opportunities so, naturally, I intend to use this opportunity to further expose my brand in Jamaica," said Levi Roots. "We are already in Jamaica, but only in a limited way in a few select stores, so we are looking to expand."
Levi Roots, whose appearance on the 2012 edition of Western Consciousness marked his first performance in Jamaica for over 20 years, says he hopes that his involvement with the show will add a new dimension to the overall offering to patrons, and not only from a musical perspective.
"We want to create an atmosphere where every patron who comes into the venue must feel comfortable and special," said Levi Roots. "Patrons must go away from this year's concert with the feeling that they were treated like royalty. We are currently considering handing out Reggae Reggae memorabilia to all our patrons as keepsakes."
As for promoter King, he plans to make Levi Roots' investment count in terms of the acts he will be seeking to sign. According to him, he plans to make the line-up so irresistible that it should prove enticing to all true reggae fans.
"This is our 25th year and we are looking at putting almost a best of the best line-up in place," said King, who has had premier stars like Beenie Man as Ras Moses, Bounty Killer as Rodney Pryce, Beres Hammond, Freddie McGregor, Buju Banton, Tarrus Riley, Marcia Griffiths, Mykal Roze, Lee 'Scratch' Perry, Ritchie Spice, Mutabaruka, Brigadier Jerry, Anthony B and Britain-based acts King Sound and the all-female group - Sisters, appearing in the past.
While he now has a major sponsor on board, King said he will definitely not turn away from the many smaller sponsors, who have supported him in the past as, according to him, without them, he would not have survived this long.
"I must use this opportunity to thank all the people who have supported this venture in the past because their support was critical to our survival," said King. "I must acknowledge entities like Ward's Power Tool, the House of Leeds, the media houses, the artistes and most importantly, the loyal patrons."
While he will not be involved in selecting the line-up, Levi Roots intimated that he expects to see a stellar line-up in place, which should result in solid public support.
"Deciding on who will appear on the show is entirely up to Mr King," said Levi Roots. "I want to make it clear that this is not going to be a one-off arrangement for me. I have found this novel way to reconnect with my roots and I intend to be around with Western Consciousness for a long time to come."