Mr. Prime Minister and colleagues,
I wish to make it known that my open letter formula carries absolutely no animosity as is customary in such correspondence but rather, a method of bringing continuity to an open discussion hosted by you Mr. Prime Minister on your widely commented Anou Palay TV show on the subject of entertainment.
Talk of a possible entertainment industry in Dominica is a matter that is of extreme personal importance. It should be noted that two members of the three-man panel included the spokesperson and leader of the longest running Dominican band the Swinging Stars, a band which I once produced and released on my record label SAULTONE, and another the manager of T-K, a band which did its first ever recording at my studio as Triple-K.
I was not at all surprised when the question of what could government do in terms of policy regarding the development of entertainment, to which with all due respect to the panelists, nothing substantial was answered, simply because being an actor in the business does not necessarily mean being capable of launching an industry. Their competences are largely and duly recognized in other areas.
Mr. Prime Minister, surely with good intentions you suggested that a new meeting will be convened, and some organization should be created to represent the music practitioners. Respectfully, Sir, this approach will highly likely be as fruitless as the many previous others. Before saying why, please allow me to briefly introduce myself within the context which I humbly think allows me the legitimacy of speaking with a modicum of authority.
I am a Dominican citizen who left Dominica long before the Internet age at a time when almost throughout the Caribbean performing artists were looked down upon as uneducated social pariahs unable to do anything else. I had many other options. I, however, despite all odds, left Dominica alone with an objective. In little time I was able to invite fellow musicians from Dominica to:
1) Create in the Diaspora the band Exile One which in turn created also in the Diaspora a genre called Cadence-Lypso.
2) Cadence-Lypso revolutionized the music of the region and beyond and attracted hundreds of young Dominicans to build careers. Among them are the late Jeff Joseph, Ophelia, the Midnight Groovers and many more…
3) I created a “real record company” with offices, staff, industry infrastructure engaged in research and development, production, marketing, promotion and distribution with a catalogue of artists from Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion Island and from Dominica:
Ophelia, Swinging Stars, Julie Mourillon and Fitzroy Williams all with varying levels of success around the world. The music is to this day, in some cases, still distributed around the world.
4) The artists were all introduced to the most lucrative aspect of the MUSIC INDUSTRY which is copyright and they all adhered and made reasonable earnings that can be proven except the Swinging Stars which has always been a group which approached music from a “hobby” perspective and not as full-time professionals. Noticeably, that topic was routinely ignored on the said ANOU PALAY show.
5) I have worked on practically every continent on stage, on radio and television. A few episodes of my “Feel The World Beat” TV show which was broadcast on selected PBS stations in the USA can be viewed on You Tube.
6) Many of my compositions have been adapted into other languages from the original Creole and have sold millions, the best example is Jamais voir ça with the Portuguese version Quero Voce selling over 3.5 million copies in Brazil. (at least 11 versions available on YouTube).
7) When the World Creole Music Festival was being planned, I volunteered my services for free and was named International Coordinator by which I was able to guarantee the involvement of radio and TV mainly from Guadeloupe, Martinique and New York resulting in an immediate launching of the event in the region.
I invested personal funds at the time in entertainment because I passionately believed that the WCMF could have become the headquarters of the Creole music niche market. This investment included a recording studio which revived the Midnight Groovers band, which was inactive for many years, it gave birth to the first recording of Triple-K and many more. A CD replication plant which facilitated every local band including the Swinging Stars, a live
performance venue and most of all a radio station that was launched as being music oriented.
9) My track record proudly demonstrates that all of my endeavors in this industry have for the past 50 years resisted the test of time in so much that had it not been for COVID-19, I would have been operating an aborted 50th anniversary world tour with my colleagues of Exile One.
Mr. Prime Minister and colleagues, I shall now explain why speaking to any organization can only be another sterile move.
Of course, one or many organizations are necessary but if we (the government, the people and the music practitioners) are serious about any viable entertainment industry in Dominica, I strongly suggest to the government that placing money at the Aid Bank at low interest loans can probably assist but cannot launch any industry.
Dear PM and colleagues if you have any faith and understanding in how this industry works, you will agree that we have been making two major errors:
1) The structure required to launch the industry has never been considered.
2) Insufficient funds.
Entertainment is vast so I refer here to only music. Today, Dominica is the leader of a particular music product of which only few seem to have the slightest idea. Even those involved.
It is not too late to stamp our world presence with credible references and start reaping benefits in little time.
Mr. Prime Minister and colleagues, I can put together a small group of Dominican and foreign professionals (since we need the gate keepers) to set up a powerful professional business entity that will provide employment, return on investment, and much to the tourism sector.
Government has made numerous promises of injecting money into the industry. We recognize grants to individuals on the local level. This, however, is the opportunity, for reasonable sums based on existing industry data capable of carving a share in this competitive market in a transparent manner and give Dominica its rightful place.
Yes, I have fifty years’ experience, but the Presidents of both Dominica and the USA are older than me, lol… truly…