by David Hinkson
Barbadian artistes have been reassured that their relatives will proceed to learn from royalties related to their work for an extended period after their demise. This assurance got here from Special Advisor on Culture and Cultural Heritage within the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator John King, during a panel discussion on the life and work of Barbadian musical icon, Jackie Opel, on the Courtney Blackman Grande Salle on Saturday in honour of Jackie Opel Day.
He was on the time responding to an issue from entertainer, Leroy Straker, who identified that, “Our current copyright laws only allow relatives to acquire royalties for as much as fifty years after the artiste dies. So provided that Jackie Opel died in 1970, it signifies that his family will now not profit from those payments.
“In Jamaica the law goes as much as 95 years and in many of the world it’s 70 years.”
Senator King said, “In 2020 the Government checked out this and agreed that we should always carry it as much as 70 years, and we hope to bring the relevant laws to Parliament soon.”
Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Creative Arts, Culture and Performing Arts on the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Marcia Burrowes, moderated the discussion, which featured Dr. Stefan Walcott, Adjunct Lecturer in Music at The UWI, Cave Hill Campus; Desmond Weekes of the Draytons Two; distinguished singer Richard Stoute and prolific songwriter Sach Moore.
Stoute, a founder member of one among Barbados’ leading vocal groups, The Opels, noted that it was Jackie Opel who gave that group its name.
“In the future we were practising at the general public baths in Chapman Lane and Jackie heard us singing and invited us to perform at a show he was having on the Barbarees Plaza. We didn’t have a reputation for the group yet, so he said, ‘Man, I’m going to call you all after me; any longer, you all are
Stoute said he believed spouge, the musical genre Opel created, didn’t go so far as it could have based on Opel’s low-income background, a sentiment echoed by Sach Moore.
“To me Jackie got here on the scene on the mistaken time because we were still trying to find a cultural identity. Jackie was a poor black boy like myself and the others who were coming up at the moment, and our parents looked down on entertainment as a profession alternative, particularly calypso which was seen as taboo. It was only when The Merrymen got here along that calypso became more accepted locally.”
Desmond Weekes also spoke on the image some Barbadians had of Jackie, stating that, “Nothing was mistaken with Jackie; the whole lot was mistaken with the people! Jackie was a person ahead of his time, an actual visionary, and other people don’t all the time understand creatives because they see the world otherwise.”
Each bass guitarist Ricky Aimey and sound engineer and member of The Sandpebbles band, Norman Barrow, shared their thoughts on why spouge fell out of favour in the course of the mid to late Nineteen Seventies after being extremely popular for many of the decade.
Aimey said, “Spouge didn’t fail; we failed spouge. After we stopped playing spouge other people within the Caribbean wondered whether we were crazy, but I think certain elements of society didn’t need to see it prosper due to where it originated.”
In Barrow’s view, “In those days we had West Indies Records Limited, more commonly generally known as WIRL, they usually recorded and pressed records here in Barbados, but they were controlled by one among the island’s larger conglomerates they usually kept carrying up their prices.
In truth, after some time it became cheaper to get our music recorded, records pressed and shipped back here from Jamaica than to have the method done here. I also recall that (Jamaican entertainer) the late Byron Lee wanted to establish a studio and pressing plant here but that concept was squashed.”
By way of the best way forward for the genre, Dr. Walcott noted that “When you analyse the music that got here out in the course of the spouge era, you’ll realise that each one different groups had their very own spin on it based on their influences, for instance with some there was a touch of funk, ska and country and western of their work. To me, if we’re talking about getting young people into spouge, we now have to know they may also bring their influences to the table.”
Other suggestions included establishing a four-year Jackie Opel Memorial Music Scholarship for music students at UWI Cave Hill, a spouge festival as a part of the
Crop Over Festival, and the creation of a dance to associate with the genre.