Little appreciation of local music

This Christmas Season my family and I decided to “hang out a bit” so we went to some very classy acts. We went to Divas in Concert, we brought 25 children to Rotary Club, Carols by Candlelight and we went to the RGPF Christmas Brass concert at the Trade center.
The quality of the programs, the voices, and the music was top quality. In my opinion these shows represent a very high quality of talents in Grenada.

Strangely though, amidst the excitement I felt homesick. I wanted to hear at least a Barsan, a Donnysia, an Ajamu, a Steve Theodore or an Allan G. But before you jump into any conclusion you should also know that I also wanted to hear Rudolph the red nose reindeer and Jingle Bells.

The question though, is how come it was only the Grenadian content that was either non-existent or very poorly represented? Is it because we do not see value in singing our own songs as they are? Or stylizing them to the singers or the bands own fancy?
If we do not play our own music how would the world know of our composers and our artists?

First Lady Michelle Obama just sang a rap song supporting a genre of music that was stigmatised by the media but since it represents black culture she sang it. An all-white band did over Sparrow’s “Good morning Mr. Walker’. And an all-white orchestra band just did David Rudder’s ‘Immigrant.’

I bring these examples to your attention because there is a developing pattern, a foreboding that encircles our culture whereby we still behave as if we are colonised. There is a hush over Grenada and an attitude of submission and servitude.

Things Grenadian are not valued. They are seen as less than and we treat our own people as second-class citizens in our own country. We are prepared to sell out the country’s resources, to copy dressing styles, adopt unnatural lifestyles and promote foreign dances and music.

That indifference to local content is best portrayed by our band players, some of our radio stations and our local DJ’s in particular. The choice music dished out by those Disc Jockeys is usually filled with lewdness and obscenities in their rendition of hip-hop, rap and dance hall. If the old adage is true “bend a tree while it is young” the lack of local content at these events indicates that we are actually teaching our children to have less appreciation for what is theirs.

Take time out Grenadians and go to schools activities but in particular Primary Schools and observe how little of our music is played. Let me make it clear that I am not saying there should be an absence of other Genre I am just advocating for a balance in what we produce here.

Our ancestors fought and struggled hard so that we can express ourselves publicly. The main medium for that expression was through our music and the performing arts. The onus is on us to continue that trend by supporting those that produce the music hoping to get on the international scene.

The genesis of that struggle for self-reflection and expression in the public domain was due to a rise in black consciousness. It was during those eras, that the steel pan was developed, calypso and reggae music was born, drums and African customs re-emerged and African spiritual songs got sang in churches.

It was that surge in identity and awareness that led to numerous demands being placed on the colonial and racist societies. In America, blacks demanded that more of their images be seen in the movie industry and in the Caribbean, radio hosts played more songs produced in the Islands.

Concurrently due to that rise in consciousness, old paradigms of governance were challenged as the oppressed people seek greater freedom to govern themselves.

Presently the United Nations more than ever recognise Humanity Cultural Heritage and Cultural assets and pledged to do everything within their powers to preserve the indigenous and cultural identities of the world.

Today no one seems to remember or care about the sacrifices made by those who fought for those rights? So yes I am worried that a national band as the Police band played so little of our songs at their concert. I am also saying that, even when our focus is outward looking, visitors all over the world visit, seeking indigenous expressions and experiences.

Are we entering a phase where we as a people are so broken in spirit, where we are so ashamed of who we are that we look to erase and fight down everything that once defined us as a people? Is it for those same reasons why one of our national park and historic site are being represented with Chinese Pagodas and ironically, marketed as “Pure Grenada”?
Come on folks, add your voices and let us do more to protect the Cultural Heritage and Patrimony left for us through sweat and blood on this little rock of ours.

Livingston Krumah Nelson

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