Play our music!
With the country celebrating 49 years of independence, I went out to celebrate with several of my friends on a Friday evening, having a bite and libations, only to start a conversation and then realizing I’m shouting just to be heard over the loud music. Well it’s not the sound of the music, but the type of music was just an assault on my ears.
Okay, to be fair, some of my friends are 40 and some pushing 70, but in God’s name, why does the so-called music have to be so loud, making it impossible to have a conversation? We complained to the manager, requesting some of the local artists, but our complaints fell on deaf ears and there were tourists in the establishment who I am sure would love to hear a live Bahamian band or at least some Bahamian music.
URCA I understand mandates that the radio stations must play a certain amount of Bahamian music to maintain their license, and yet the airwaves are filled with music from other countries, outdoing our local artists. I am wondering if this can be put to all music providers in the hotels and public places, that it be made mandatory that they play a fair amount of our music.
The hotels that benefit from a variety of tax breaks still don’t have enough Bahamian bands in their entities, while our talented artists are fighting to survive. Every heads of agreement which is signed by hotels and government, should consist of a key element, where Bahamian talent is showcased and our music must be heard throughout the hotels. Of course we expect our musicians to live up to their billing and conduct themselves as the professionals they are. We must do everything in our power to keep our culture alive and not force our musicians to abandon their craft, and in some cases they are forced to seek other employment. In worse scenarios, they leave the island entirely just to put food on the table to feed their families.
One only genre has to go, Jamaican; the only music you hear overplayed is reggae. If you were to go to Cuba, every nook and cranny of a bar or restaurant has a band licking Cuban music. In The Bahamas we have over five million tourists a year and most of them have never been exposed to our music.
Years ago, a few of my friends and I spent a couple days at a resort in San Salvador, and for some time I thought I was in Jamaica due all the music being played; strictly Bob Marley and reggae. I am not asking for a total ban on foreign music, however, all I am asking is for equal time for our music.
The chances of me going back to that place on West Bay Street, with a beautiful view of the sunset, is a doubtful one. We were ignored and this is where many businesses fail. They don’t pay attention to what the customers are complaining about. If you don’t listen, as the senior folks would say, you will feel. Play our music!
• William Wong is a two-term president of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation, two-term president of the Bahamas Real Estate Association and a partner at Darville-Wong Realty. He is also a former president of the Rotary Club of South East Nassau and is currently a member of the Rotary Club of West Nassau. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.