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Reggae Embassy committed to advancing industry

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2016 | 3:18 PMShereita Grizzle
Eldie Anthony
Jodian Pantry

Over the years, many music industry insiders have called for the establishment of an organisation that would focus on the advancement of the country's music, especially reggae. In 2010, when the Reggae Embassy became operational, those calls were answered.

The Reggae Embassy, whose world headquarters is in Kingston, is a career- and business-advancement organisation whose purpose is to focus on the needs, wants, and concerns of all aspects of the reggae music industry and those within it.

In an interview with The Sunday Gleaner, Director of Operations at the Reggae Embassy Christina Grand said that the organisation was birthed out of the need to assist people from all aspects of the industry who wanted to learn the business of the music.

"The people love the organisation and what we stand for, and the people who want to learn the business have been greatly appreciative of the work we do," she said. "We assist, guide, support, develop, educate, protect, and invest in talented individuals and businesses in the music industry. The way we've been received has been wonderful."

While highlighting that the response from persons in the music fraternity has been overwhelming, Grand dismissed the notion that the organisation only assisted artistes.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh, it's just for artistes'. No! We help songwriters, beat makers, managers, composers, record label owners, and production companies."

When asked why there wasn't more buzz around the country about what the Reggae Embassy does, Grand said that although it may seem like a lot of people are unaware of the work the organisation does, in reality, they are overwhelmed with work because of the response they have received.

"I won't say that most Jamaicans don't know about our work because they are finding out about us. The reason why we do not advertise is because we are already being inundated with thousands of people from around the world that contact us on a daily basis," she explained. "We service at least 100-200 people per week that we can get to."

She also said that the response has been so great that the organisation is thinking about taking on more people to help with its client base. The organisation's clients include Tanto Blacks, Chilando, Loyal Flames, Jodi-Ann Pantry, and producer Askell, among others.

With expansion in mind, Grand says that the Reggae Embassy is relevant in today's society as the current state of the industry demands proper structure and organisation.

"The industry needs structure and organisation, and that's exactly what we're bringing to the table," she said. "It needs to educate the people, and that's what we do. The organisation was created for the people. Our mission is not only to create projects, programmes, and opportunities for our clients, but also to identify the problems within the industry and create solutions."

Working with clients over the years, Grand has identified one major problem facing the industry: a lack of unity.

"I'm not seeing enough unity in the industry," she said. "I've reached out to the former government to offer our assistance because we are far more advanced with what we have in place already, so there would be no need to reinvent the wheel. We don't want government regulation because this is an organisation for the people, but we want their support and resources to help the people. I'm not very happy with how things are currently, and I will be reconnecting with Babsy Grange now that she is in office to see how we can move forward."

There are many who believe that reggae music in its current state is dying, but Grand admitted that she was one of the few who didn't believe that.

"Reggae is not dying. People want reggae. They want good reggae, positive reggae, and so they gravitate to the more authentic side, and that's why I think people like Chronixx have been doing so well because he's done a great job of tapping into that and bringing back the roots to the newer generation, and a lot more people are doing that like New Kingston Band and Raging Fyah."

She went on to say that if the country could get it right by sealing up reggae music as Brand Jamaica, it could spell even bigger things for the genre and the country on the international market.

"Reggae is a very big resource for Jamaica and so much more can be done, but I'm not seeing that structure and organisation that we need to accomplish that."