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Creating INFRASTRUCTURE~ Black Music Canada

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Rupert Harvey of Messenjah

In this current climate of folks seeking out the avenues of racism, I have pretty much spoken on several occasions; I will come again with a look at reggae music in Canada and where we are situated in the contribution to the Canadian airwaves

Reggae arrived here pretty early because Jackie Mittoo was here, from the late sixties to the early seventies and from that time till now, outside of The Sattalites and probably Messenjah, artists performing in this country had no chance of mainstream airplay

That is so today also

I have pretty much always pointed to the disregard a company like the CBC has displayed to the culture of reggae

Some of us naively thought that we were Canadian also and would be given opportunities because we lived, worked, had families and paid taxes.  Like I said, we were naive.  They have always treated “urban” music like it was nonexistent and used the old, “it does not suit our programming” whenever we inquired in any arena as to why the music could or did not receive airplay

We could cry racism all we wanted, which was blatantly clear {and still is blatantly clear today} but who was going to listen to the silenced voices of black immigrants?

We resigned ourselves to community radio who serviced the reggae needs of the people and for a time there were many live bands performing at venues around the city and province and played reggae music

Messenjah signed to Warner Brothers music division at some point in the eighties and we all saw possibilities for other artists to be picked up but Messenjah has some horrific stories to tell some day of their sad treatment and a truly negative experience

MuchMusic raised the stock of Canadian performing artists but when it died, so did the entire industry of so called urban music

Has the CBC ever had a reggae program?

Oh yeah, it doesn’t suit their programming

One might consider contacting the CRTC seeking their input to more diverse programming to suit Canada’s diversity that is somewhere in their mandate but I’m pretty sure they would deny that this is a part of their jurisdiction

So what is consistent with the past, is our need to depend a system that does not acknowledge us and some sixty years later we are singing the same tune

I used to get so angry back in the day of what I saw as blatant racism and screamed and yelled at those who would listen but I was only blowing hot steam

Infrastructure

In those sixty years urban music have not created, an effective, viable outlets to promote the culture to the Canadian audience nor to international entities

We can sit back and shout racism from the rooftops yet I challenge myself to find a path to exposing much of the great talent among us.  Many of the “old heads” have no connection or input to the younger generation and truth be told, we should become a more cohesive unit to elevate the music and the culture.  R&B, Hip Hop, Reggae, Soca, African / Afro Beat needs our own governing body / bodies to push the music

Not a new concept I am aware yet still a truth that we need to face and to rectify

I put these thoughts to the universe and see what returns

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Reasoning sessions with Louis March and RasTafari elder, Pablo Naphtali, speaking of creating HOPE for our children, through African eyes from the teachings of Marcus Garvey, applying those principles to black life, trying to elevate our children away from guns violence, another symptom of systemic racism black children face in Canada


This article will be in the next ReggaeXclusive, July 2020
Contributions are encouraged ~ Bless

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