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Artistes unimpressed

Ricky Jordan

Artistes unimpressed

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WHILE PROMOTERS and tourism officials feel the influx of foreign artistes gives Barbados unique opportunities to expand the island’s brand and lift the standard of local entertainment, some local artistes are not impressed.
According to several Barbadian entertainers, Barbados has become the laughing stock of regional entertainment, since local artistes don’t get half the sums that artistes from Jamaica, Trinidad and farther afield get.
A number of unnamed artistes remarked on this yesterday, saying they didn’t mind foreign acts coming to these shores but wanted local entertainers to be treated just as well.
Veteran artiste and Troubadours International manager Ken Jones noted that foreign artistes got airfare, accommodation, per diem and huge performance fees in Barbados, while few local acts got such reciprocal treatment.
“Bajan artistes don’t really go to Jamaica to perform. How come Mark Lorde or Richard Stoute don’t go to Jamaica?” Jones asked.
Another entertainer added: “It’s unfair for Barbadians to be treated this way. Everyone comes here from overseas and gets royal treatment, and people get sponsorship to bring in these artistes.”
Reigning Party Monarch Blood disagreed about local artistes not being treated well abroad, stating this was not his experience; but he said he was tired of local promoters treating local artistes like an afterthought.
“When the foreign artiste is coming, he is billed as a superstar while the local act is barely mentioned . . . .”
Reigning Calypso Monarch Gabby said as far as the calypso artistes were concerned, the treatment of Barbadians was almost scandalous. “I find it appalling that the disparity is so great between what fees are meted to local soca artistes and Trinis. We need to rectify that quickly. There’s nothing fair about that at all. The excuse is that they draw crowds but that hasn’t been proven,” he told the WEEKEND NATION.
Another musician, pointing to the recent Reggae Festival, asked: “How come vintage Jamaican singers can come here every year and sing the same songs, and Bajans pack the place?” One soca artiste noted that most local artistes who competed in Trinidad Carnival had to look for airfare and accommodation.
But promoter Tony Hoyos, who recently brought in Grammy Award-winning artiste John Legend, said having acts like Legend was good for the country’s image.
“It helps to promote Barbados and to expose our own artistes to great talents like John. It would give them an idea of the heights to which they should aspire.”
Veteran promoter Al Gilkes put it this way: “If I was a carpenter who had learnt my trade in a village, I’d be happy to see an international carpenter working for the president so as to learn from him.”
Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority, Adrian Elcock, said the influx of foreign acts provided important exposure for Barbadians who shared the stage with them and local talent in general.
“The benefit of Barbados being the home of Rihanna, Shontelle, Livvy Franc and Hal Linton has helped to create a positive aura internationally about Barbados, especially among their colleagues in the industry,” he said, adding that this had heightened the curiosity of many megastars about Barbados.
In recent months, the country has hosted Jennifer Hudson, Amber Rose, Wyclef Jean and John Legend, and is about to host Fantasia, while a concert featuring Rihanna is also upcoming.