Articles Comments

» GUEST RUNDOWNS » BOOK EXAMINES REGGAE’S LACK OF GROWTH IN CANADA – THE LAND OF THE MAPLE LEAF!

BOOK EXAMINES REGGAE’S LACK OF GROWTH IN CANADA – THE LAND OF THE MAPLE LEAF!

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL——-

THOUGH some of Jamaica’s leading artists have lived in Canada, the land of the Maple Leaf has never had a booming reggae scene. Singer-turned-author Michael ‘Visionary’ Thompson examines some of the reasons for this shortfall in his book, The Hidden Agenda of Reggae Music.

The St Catherine-born Thompson launched The Hidden Agenda in February at the Institute of Jamaica, downtown Kingston. He told the Jamaica Observer recently that it is a compressed autobiography as well as an exposé of Canadian reggae.

THOMPSON… reggae scene in Canada is undergoing a major transition

 

“In my opinion, the reggae scene here in Canada is undergoing a major transition, trying to make up for lost time,” he said. “An influx of reggae artists have emerged onto the scene but they find it extremely difficult as so-called mainstream radio stations are not buying into the trial-and-error syndrome.”

According to Thompson, age-old obstacles such

as payola, un-professional managers and corrupt promoters have helped hinder the progress of reggae in Canada. He lays the blame mainly at the feet of

show promoters.

“They continue to use refurbished artists year in, year out, not for the growth of the music industry but for their personal monetary gains,” he charged. “When those artists are gone the industry will suffer a major lull and a cavity will be left for a long time

to come.”

Several of reggae’s pioneers, including keyboardist Jackie Mittoo, singer/bassist Leroy Sibbles and singer/songwriter Ernie Smith, moved to Canada in the 1970s. They helped develop a vibrant reggae scene in Toronto, setting the pace for bands like Messenjah and the singer Nana McLean, who rose in the 1980s.

Canadian reggae showed signs of flourishing a

decade later, thanks to the breakthrough of a homegrown singjay named Snow.

Snow’s pop-reggae song, Informer, topped the Billboard pop chart in 1993 and

opened doors for him to

enter Jamaica’s competitive dancehall arena. He had relative success here, especially with the smash hit, Anything For You, but after his light faded, none of his countrymen filled his shoes.

In recent years, a new wave of Jamaican-born Canadian acts have emerged, including Tony Anthony, Lenn Hammond and Esco Levi. There are also established reggae festivals in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary.

Thompson has been recording consistently as Visionary since 2005 when he released an EP (extended play) set titled Look to the Hills. His debut album, Brace Yourself, followed shortly after.

He is currently working with producer Barry O’Hare on a new album.

Thompson also plans to aggressively promote The Hidden Agenda through the Internet and at forums such as a major book festival in Toronto in September.

 

 

Written by

Filed under: GUEST RUNDOWNS · Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: