Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Many reggae artistes aim to travel to the United States (US) in an effort to promote their music and perform at events. Some of those reggae artistes see Jamaica as a difficult market for reggae; however, Emal 'Blessed One' Henry is doing the reverse.
The artiste, who has been a US citizen since age 10, says he wants his talent to be validated in Jamaica.
According to Blessed One, the American market is not looking for aspiring American reggae artistes, but rather, young acts coming out of Jamaica.
Blessed One says Jamaica is seen as the ultimate melting pot for the birth of reggae artistes, therefore, he intends to invest more of his time in Jamaica in an attempt to break into the mainstream market here.
"People are not looking for a US reggae artiste, but whatever young act they hear that is blazing in Jamaica, that is what they normally gravitate towards. So that is why I'm here doing some groundwork," he said.
Blessed One was also a DJ and has played with various sound systems, including the iconic Stone Love and Kilamanjaro.
According to the artiste, he is ready to put down his DJ hat and pursue being an artiste on a full-time basis.
Like many aspiring reggae artistes, Blessed One faces the uphill challenge of getting music played on local radio. He is, therefore, encouraging young DJs to give roots music a chance and support Jamaican music.
GIVE GOOD MUSIC A CHANCE
"Listen to good, positive music and give it a chance. You can't just play one thing. When I was a DJ, I played good music. The key to appreciating music is to listen. That is why we have two ears and one mouth. So it's important for us to listen before we can form an opinion," he said.
While Blessed One notes the potential to spread music through the Internet and so avoid the need for airplay, he also believes more established artistes stand to benefit the most.
"Jimmy Cliff received a Grammy recently, and he didn't sell many albums, but his status stands on the social media, so he doesn't need radioplay. So I think the radio should play a stronger role in developing aspiring artistes and be more diverse," he said.
Blessed One is promoting his single, The Mystic.
"The Mystic gives a lot of feeling to me, and I think a lot of people can relate to it. I produced it and it expresses emotions that are not the easiest to express," he said.
The reggae singer operates his own recording studio in the US called Musical Rod Productions. He is also working with up-and-coming reggae artistes Abbajahni and the Mighty Flex.
Blessed One's debut album is scheduled for an early 2014 release.