It’s the diamond edition for Reggae Wednesdays
JaRIA chairman urges establishment of entertainment zones
With Reggae Month one week away, and the official launch scheduled for next Sunday, the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) is in execution mode to ensure that this year’s events will certainly shine bright like diamonds. Jamaica is this year celebrating its 60th year as an independent nation, and Reggae Month activities will reflect this diamond jubilee.
JaRIA Chairman Ewan Simpson told The Gleaner that the association will host its usual signature events, although virtually again this year. However, Reggae Wednesdays, he says, will be next-level official.
“There will be four Reggae Wednesdays dedicated to Jamaica’s diamond jubilee and therefore dubbed ‘The Diamond Edition’. The Wednesdays will be dedicated to ‘Dancehall’, ‘Roots Rock Reggae’, ‘The Ladies of Reggae’ and ‘Reggae in the Sanctuary’. We are currently finalising our agreements and will release our artiste line-up this week,” Simpson shared.
Reggae Wednesdays is a series of concerts which seeks to entertain while educating audiences about the development of the music through performances from a wide array of entertainers during the month of February. Throughout the years, there have been performances from the biggest names in the business, as well as up-and-coming entertainers who have used the stage to launch their careers. Pre-COVID-19, the Reggae Wednesdays concerts were last staged at Emancipation Park in New Kingston.
Another of JaRIA’s signature events, the popular Reggae Open University (ROU) series is also receiving additional impetus.
“We are expanding the number to six and [will be] presenting them in association with the Bob Marley Group,” Simpson disclosed.
Aligned with this is a competition to select five emerging acts and give them an opportunity to present their original work at the ROU. He shared the slick artwork for the competition, which clearly outlines the rules of the competition. Persons are being asked to send in video recordings of themselves performing a song, and the organisers emphasise that “there should be no profanity (curse words) in the lyrics”.
The Reggae Open University was established to fulfil JaRIA’s mandate to educate and inform members on matters affecting the industry. Through insightful panel discussions led by those with first-hand knowledge of the topics being presented, the ROU has emerged as a fountain of much-needed information for creatives within the entertainment ecosystem.
With entertainment still under lockdown and the prime minister expected to make new announcements on or before January 28, Simpson was asked to share his wish list.
“We try not to have wish lists; however, we are desirous of seeing entertainment zones declared, within which entertainment can be allowed to compliantly flourish. We are also desirous of seeing workable government policy, as well as legislation enacted, which will incentivise the private sector to seriously invest in entertainment products; products and infrastructure,” he said.
Reggae Month is being celebrated under the theme ‘Come ketch de riddim.” The official launch and church service is scheduled to take place on January 30 at the Go for God Family Church, 77 Shortwood Road.
The service will be streamed live on PBC Jamaica, the JCDC Facebook page and other social media platforms.