Entertainment scene could explode in 2010
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
The casual observer will be forgiven for thinking it was all doom and gloom for Jamaican entertainment in 2009. Many of the challenges were loud, very loud. These included the gunfire which resounded at singer Luciano's Westminster Avenue, St Andrew, home in March when the alleged gunman 'Conqueror' was killed by the security forces to end an extended shoot-out.
And the successes tended to be quiet, especially when they were abroad, the news filtering back into Jamaica in specialised entertainment media - and sometimes low-key even there at that.
Cherine Anderson's extensive touring with Michael Franti and Spearhead on the contrails of their Billboard charting Say Hey (I Love You) collaboration got that semi-muted treatment.
dagger to the public heart
Then there were the challenges which fused high volume and silence; in early February, during the second annual Reggae Month observations, the Broadcasting Commission issued a ban from electronic media airplay of all songs which require editing (normally done by beeps) to be semi-sanitised for airplay. It was a dagger to the public heart of the 'daggering' dancehall songs.
There were also those successes if the ceasefire declared between Vybz Kartel of the Gaza and Mavado of the Gully can be deemed a triumph when the situation could have been avoided in the first place. The two had a jolly reunion appearance at the West Kingston Jamboree in early December followed by a more quiet walk and talk to in the more official corridors of power a few days later.
Arguably the highest point of the entertainment year came in early January, Orville 'Shaggy' Burrell daring all to care for the Bustamante Hospital for Children, which he has consistently supported privately, and receiving an overwhelming response. The 2010 staging of the charity concert took place last night.
The undisputed king of Jamaican entertainment lows in 2009 came off stage in 'Kingston 14', Miami, when deejay Mark 'Buju Banton' Myrie was arrested on December 10 on cocaine charges. The fallout has been front-page news in Jamaica, but the song Boom Bye Bye which has resulted in his tours (including the 2009 Rasta Got Soul sojourn) being hounded by gay protests has shored up his support at home.
The Night Noise Act was applied with bewildering inconsistency in 2009, the most prominent casualty being the near three-decade old Rae Town Old Hits street dance.
Looking ahead to 2010, at Tuesday evening's launch of the 17th annual Rebel Salute festival, Broadcasting Commission Executive Director Cordel Green announced his wish list for the entertainment industry this year. It was a short list, with three items.
"We need to look past the violent lyrics and look at something more insidious, the excessively materialistic themes in our music," Green said,
Noting the recession conditions, Green said it would be insensitive and morally reprehensible for entertainers to continue to gloat about what they have and their possessions such as cars and earrings.
Green said these themes should not be paraded in the faces of the suffering. He spoke to the poor being the most loyal supporters of music and "it is not good that we turn around and mock their poverty through our themes".
Green's second wish is that "we begin to do away with false performers". He said there are persons who come onstage and most times hold the microphone out to the crowd and get the audience to sing. "We pay to see artistes. We don't pay to become unpaid backup artistes," Green said.
Green insisted that entertainers should do sets, where the MC does the introduction, the band plays and the performer is expected to sing or deejay, "not shout, chant, run out of breath".
"And we expect to hear the songs as they sound on the CD," Green said to applause.
Green's final wish is that there are shows with fewer 'artistes' and more performers. This would make for concerts without much of a lull.