Island Music Conference in Kingston, Jamaica. Article Courtesy: Overtime Media

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Two icons of the Caribbean region managed to share the same message for all artisans this past weekend, while speaking in two separate and totally different capacities and even in different countries. Preceding the CARICOM Chairman’s address at the 46th Caricom Heads of Government Meeting in Guyana on Sunday, multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning dancehall artiste, “Sean Paul” Henriques once again advised Trinibad (and in fact all artistes everywhere) to strike a balance with their music, instead of focusing on negative elements only.

Sean Paul said this on Saturday following his insightful discourse at the Island Music Conference in Kingston, Jamaica, whilst CARICOM Chairman and President of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali echoed this exact ideal during his address on Sunday in Georgetown, Guyana.

Asked about the plight of Trinibad artiste “Kman 6ixx”, (who has recently been banned from performing in Grenada, Guyana and several regional territories after surviving a drive-by shooting in Trinidad, which resulted in multiple casualties), Sean Paul reiterated his sentiments expressed during the covid-19 pandemic, when he advised Trinibad acts to “balance their catalogue with positive messages” in a zoom interview with Overtime Media.

After appearing at the Island Music Conference on Saturday for a one-on-one conversation with Jamaican Publicist and co-founder of the conference, Judith Bodley, Sean Paul was asked again about the situation and any possible advice he could give to artistes in that position. He said:

“People will do what dem want to do. You cyan lead the horse to the water, but you cyan make dem drink it, yuh see…

“Me cyan only tell yuh de truth wey me know: writing and singing and speaking about violence brings it into your life more so that’s all I can say. He must weigh him life and the people around him and his family and know there’s steps that he can take – where he has opportunities and doors open to him now – me na tell him fi sell out – he afi do what is true to him, but at the same point in time, well: if we are gonna be artistes that reflect life, reflect some ah the light too cause everything that is dark is not the whole truth, there is always light as well and we should speak about that as well, as artistes.” 

Meanwhile on Sunday at the CARICOM Meeting, the Guyanese President urged up-and-coming artistes NOT to promote violence in their music and briefly referenced the decision to bar certain acts from performing in his country. He said:

“We do not need lyrics that promote violence in this region. We have the ability to promote good lyrics and lyrics that will move people in the positive direction and move people to think and behave positively. As leaders of this region, we have to take this situation very seriously and ensure the lyrics of the region are like the lyrics of Bob Marley – the lyrics of positivity, positive living and positive change. We must take this responsibility on today!”

Back in Jamaica, Henriques praised and thanked the people of Trinidad and Tobago for supporting Reggae and dancehall music and culture and said he is looking forward to returning to the island soon, adding sent representatives recently for Carnival 2024.

“My wife came down for the Carnival just the other day, so I sent representatives, but ah doh reach yet and she bring back couple doubles fi me so I was satisfied ah lickle bit, but ah wan come thru – its always been a territory that has supported reggae and dancehall… and my music especially too, so big up Trinidad and we soon forward.”

Scores of entertainment industry personnel from around the Caribbean and even as far as Zimbabwe assembled in Kingston, Jamaica last week for the sophmore edition of the five-day Island Music Conference hosted by Diamond-selling, Grammy Award winning superstar, Orville “Shaggy” Burrell, alongside co-founders, Sharon Burke and Judith Bodley.

The seminar featured informative and interactive panel discussions daily with several showcase and performance events nightly, including the launch of Teejay’s new EP, I Am Chippy and an engaging concert featuring up and coming young acts alongside established regional and international stars such as Wyclef Jean, Stonebwoy, Yohann Marley and others. The conference ended on Sunday following a screening of the film, Brooklyn Dancehall.

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