5 Questions with Tara Johnson
To carry on a musical legacy is no easy feat, but she does this with great passion. Her talent, tenacity, drive for success and rare beauty know no bounds. And already, she has earned the respect of others in this predominantly male industry. The Gleaner caught up with the owner and director of Harry J Recording Studios at the 2020 virtual staging of Uppsala Reggae Jam Festival to talk about her entrepreneurial journey and pure love for music. Here are Five Questions with Tara Johnson.
1. What has it been like running Harry J Recording Studios?
We regained management in 2013 and started renovations in 2016. It was a lot. It took some time and it took some research. We had to manoeuvre our way through and be current with the technology, because we had to take into consideration preserving what was in the past as well as representing what the brand is known for, modern quality production. Before COVID-19, we only offered audio recordings, audio productions, and for projects, record only. Now, we have taken steps to include video, audio and lighting. We also incorporate younger, up-and-coming talented artistes in the different events that we produce and execute. We wanted to find a nice and fun way to allow the up-and-coming musicians and artistes to learn and develop their skills. We have a lot of talent in Jamaica so we want to be able to expose that to the world.
2. How do you feel about being a female entrepreneur in this male-dominated industry?
It feels great as a female to be able to do what I do; to create a space and use the platforms that I have available to help others, particularly other females, as well. I know the struggle that women go through, especially in this industry. So, I’m very happy to facilitate all of that. I see myself as a facilitator more than anything.
3. What does reggae music mean to you?
Reggae music is a feeling, it’s a vibe, it’s positive upliftment. When I think about reggae, it feels like home. It’s the passionate way Jamaicans express themselves. So even though we do express ourselves in other types of music, there’s just a thing about when we play reggae; it’s different. From travelling, I’ve never seen any other country or any other part of the world play reggae the way we do.
4. How does it feel to facilitate this year’s Uppsala Reggae Jam Festival?
It’s an honour. I’m a fan of both festivals. When I got the call to go into a partnership with them based on what we were doing with the couch series, I said yes immediately. We already had a team in place and it’s something that the team was always talking about. It would be nice to construct a live-stream performance. I’m happy to do this and we are having a lot of fun doing this.
5. What is your advice to those who have the passion and want to explore a career in the music industry?
My advice to persons wanting to pursue a career in the music industry is study. Nothing beats talent and knowledge. From you know what you doing, yuh affi mek it. Always keep proper work ethics. Internationally, it’s the most important thing. Work hard and make sure you know weh yuh ah do. That way you don’t have to depend on others. That’s liberating in itself and that’s freedom. Just have faith and trust the process.
Bonus question: What are some of the songs on your playlist?
Forgive Me by Lila Ike is one. Mortimer songs are on my playlist. Govana Likkle Bit a Money. Me rate Govana – him bad! I don’t really have set songs on my playlists, I just listen to certain artistes. I’m a fan of Chronixx, I like Jada Kingdom, Stalk Ashley. And recently, I’ve been listening to Zhayna – I like how her voice sounds.