Jordane Delahaye, Gleaner Writer
Jamaica is heralded around the world as a creative mecca and the birthplace of reggae and dancehall music. However, the country's underground music scene is much bigger than just reggae and dancehall.
The local music industry is laden with talented jazz musicians and opera singers, but what will probably surprise you the most is the fact that the small isle is home to quite a few rock bands.
Needless to say, these creative genres have been forced into obscurity and are constantly overshadowed by reggae and dancehall.
Even though the genres are not Jamaican, the artistes are, and they believe that the local entertainment scene is big enough to feature the variety the country has to offer.
Phillip Lopez, the lead singer of rock/fusion band Acmatic and one-third of the electronic dance music (EDM) group Leather Jackets 1992, expressed his gratitude for people like DJ Sparks, who he says supports the band's music by giving them airplay and encouraging listeners to check out their music.
Lopez, however, does feel more could be done to help artistes in non-traditional genres to get their music out there.
"Jamaica mainly has a strong interest in the familiar, so people's first impression is that it's weird. There are a lot of people who think that if it's not born and bred in Jamaica then it's unpatriotic, but that's usually because they are not exposed to it," Lopez told The Gleaner.
Enola Williams, manager of Redbones Blues Café, reiterated Lopez's sentiment, saying non-traditional musicians were not getting enough exposure to broaden their fan base in the country.
Redbones, since its inception, has provided a platform for exceptional musicians and artistes to showcase their work. One genre which Williams said was not usually featured at Redbones is dancehall, as she says the genre is overexposed at the moment.
"Why we've chosen to feature these underground musicians at Redbones is because Jamaica cannot be defined by one person or one group. Jamaicans like a variety of things but there are not a lot of places that offer some of these things," Williams told The Gleaner.
Many traditionalists do not believe that genres like rock, jazz and EDM can ever be successful in Jamaica. However, a similar sentiment might have been shared about a unique sound coming out of a small island in the Caribbean in the late 1960s, as many could not have anticipated the impact reggae would have on the rest of the world.
"I don't think they will ever be as big as reggae in Jamaica and we can't expect them to be," Williams expressed.
Lopez, on the other hand, was optimistic about the future of rock music in the country.
"I don't limit people and I don't believe in hopeless causes. I think anything can be successful anywhere - it just takes the right pioneering effort," Lopez stated, adding that media could play a greater role in giving underground musicians more exposure.
It is only natural that the Jamaican culture evolves and grows as we become more integrated with the rest of the world.
Already we are seeing where attempts are being made to diversify the local entertainment package as Palace Amusement continues its Met Opera:Live in HD series and in the recent hosting of an EDM rave by the internationally acclaimed group, Major Lazer.