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Clive Hunt defends Edna Manley reggae comments - Maintains that college should improve programmes

Maintains that Edna Manley College should improve its reggae programmes

Published:Friday | April 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMSadeke Brooks
Clive Hunt
Ibo Cooper

His recent comments may have come off as an attack against the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), but musician and producer Clive Hunt, says his main aim is to help the college improve its reggae programmes.

In discussing what he believes he can bring to the table after a 40-year career, Hunt says he can show younger persons how to be true roots reggae musicians.

"Edna (Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts) trains persons, but they are not reggae musicians. They don't have any roots teachers. My job is to try to educate the younger players about these things, because I believe our music can survive another 40 years," he said.

But his comments were not received in good spirit by lecturer at the college and former Third World band member, Ibo Cooper, who said, "for him to single out the Edna Manley College in a disparaging way is unfortunate." Cooper also stressed that he has been at EMCVPA for the past 16 years and was responsible for the very area Hunt said was missing.


Trying to help


However, Hunt sought to make some clarifications, stressing that he in no way intended to negatively criticise the college, as his only intention is to help it improve.

"I have always saluted the work that Edna Manley College is doing by training the amount of young musicians that are available to the industry today, but at the same time, I have always expressed my disappointment at their lack of activities when it comes on to their creative skills in a creative reggae environment," he said.

"They are proficient on their instruments, yes, but their knowledge in the reggae environment is lacking critically. After a while, I have come to discover that it is the lack of training in these areas that is causing this. I was not informed in any way of this, I came to this conclusion from my experiences of working with these young musicians almost daily, and these include the best of them such as some of the ones mentioned in Mr Cooper's article."

Hunt, who has known Cooper for years, said he was in fact "surprised Mr Cooper and the school hadn't heard of my utterances before reading the article, because I almost always joke of Ibo and the reggae he knows and played and can teach, no disrespect intended, but it is a fact."


Not roots musicians


With the exception of Mickey Dyke, Hunt says he has worked with the other instructors Cooper mentioned such as Devon Richardson and Michael Fletcher. It is for this reason that Hunt says, "I am still sticking to my statement of my assessment of what is not being taught at the college. None of the staff members are roots musicians, nor do any of them have any extensive experience in playing in a creative roots reggae environment. I have worked with the few mentioned over the years, going way back, and I can testify to this."

He (Hunt) also mentioned that he has had to draw for YouTube clips during recording sessions, showing reggae of previous decades, and he was often taken aback by the fact that the younger musicians were hearing those songs for the first time.

In the same breath, Hunt also offered additional advice for EMCVPA, as he says they need to understand the meaning of roots reggae and have it taught at the school. He said a reggae production course would also be useful and could help to attract even international attention for the school.

And, if EMCVPA wants him to share his knowledge with the students, he says he is always available. Still, he stressed that he hopes his suggestions will not be viewed as negative criticism.

"My intention in mentioning Mr Cooper and Edna Manley College is only for them to become aware of what is lacking in their teaching, not to criticise in a negative way, but I hope I have in a positive way," Hunt said.