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Reggae's best come together for Hurricane Relief concert

SUPPORT: Bounty Killer, left and Sizzla bring the event to a close

HALF of my lineage comes from Dominica, which suffered terrible damage at the hands of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The effect on the island has been absolutely devastating, and much of the island is still without basic necessities such as power and clean running water.

Never slow to get on their feet and start the process of rebuilding, the Caribbean community has come together in force to aid those who have been affected by the hurricanes. One of the higher profile and hugely rewarding efforts has been set up by the Jamaican music industry. It’s called Caribbean Love Now, and the organisation had an incredible concert in Kingston last month to raise awareness of their ongoing works.

The idea was the brainchild of Joe Bogdanovich, the man behind Downsound Entertainment, who hails from California, but is now very much at home in Jamaica. He has worked in music for more than 40 years, and has promoted everyone from David Bowie and The Rolling Stones to Metallica and Ozzy Osbourne.

In the reggae fraternity he has been working alongside the likes of Lukie D, Ninjaman, Ishawna and the international festival Reggae Sumfest. “Joe came up with the idea about doing a relief effort and I thought that this would be hard to pull off,” said Cristy Barber, the producer behind the event and a veteran of 25 years in reggae circles who has worked with everyone from Damian Marley to Super Cat, Busy Signal, Tanto Metro and Devonte and many more.

“He was already donating through the hardware company he owns and was sending supplies, but he wanted to ensure that the islands in the Caribbean were being looked after properly and that the people who were getting the supplies were the ones who really needed it,” she added.

“Joe visited many of the affected areas, and also brought some high level dignitaries with him to see for themselves. We reached out to Tarrus Riley and his camp and they were fully on board and went on a trip to Antigua, Anguilla and Dominica in one day to see for themselves and drop supplies that had been accumulated.”


PICTURED: Joe Bogdanovich

Pulling off something as difficult as this is never easy, particularly at such a busy period in the year. Cristy explained how they did it. “We only had 30 days to put the show together and the idea was to get eyes on the cause and it is an ongoing fundraising process.

“We are working on our socials every day, and as well as the immediate needs of the affected people such as water and clothes, there are longer term needs such as the rebuilding of schools and hospitals.

“This is going to take many years. We had 34 artists performing live including the likes of Beres Hammond, Beenieman, Assassin, Sean Paul, Sizzla and Jah Cure. They were backed by an all- star band led by the legendary Dean Fraser and everybody donated their time and we recorded a theme song called Carry On which was written by Sherieta Lewis and Young Pow (who featured in this column two weeks ago). It features Chronixx, Tessanne Chin, Romain Virgo and Tarrus among others.”

The show was shown live on TV in Jamaica and around the Caribbean on Sportsmax, and was also streamed lived online for free. This is hugely admirable and something that others should take note of. “Joe isn’t into the pay-per-view business, he wanted to make sure as many people as possible saw this event.

“All the artists turned up and on time because they knew the importance of the event and the fact that we were doing this for TV,” said Cristy. Moving forward, I feel this is something that should and could have offshoots across the world to help the cause.

There are talks about extending the movement into the Sumfest festivities. Massive kudos should go to Joe. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and his hard workMin trying to ensure this is done properly should be commended.

Cristy gave me an insight into the man himself. “Joe is a very creative person – why I love working with him is the fact that he is true to his word and invests in the reggae industry and the country as well. He also is building a hotel in Kingston and is part of the Tracks & Records outlet with Usain Bolt.

“He is passionate about the music, the people, the country and the culture. I really feel that we should all get behind him and support him, and I would feel that even if I wasn’t working with him. Many people in the business aren’t investing at all, and he should be applauded for his efforts.”

I couldn’t agree more.

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