Public voting to be introduced for Jamaica 50 songs compilation

The Jamaican government and Jamaica 50 Secretariat have announced that there will be a public vote to determine which songs will feature on a compilation to celebrate Jamaica’s golden anniversary as an independent nation

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Earlier this year the Jamaica 50 Secretariat invited Mr. Orville ‘Shaggy‘ Burrell to undertake a collaboration with other artistes to produce a song specifically for theIntegrated Marketing Campaign of Jamaica 50.

The marketing campaign song is required specifically tosupport the Nation on a Mission message being conveyed locally and internationally by the re-scoped and restructured Jamaica 50 project that was approved by Cabinet and presented to the public after January this year.

The On a Mission song produced by Shaggy is on pointand in sync with the messages being conveyed by theJamaica 50 marketing program in Jamaica and overseas. For several weeks the song has been driving the ongoing advertising campaign for Jamaica 50. This marketing campaign song was never intended to be, nor is it considered by the Jamaica 50 Secretariat to be The official Jamaica 50 celebrations song.

The Jamaica 50 Secretariat recognized that the Minister with responsibility for Culture in the previous administration had announced another song, commissioned by the former administration and produced by Mr. Michael Bennett, as the official Jamaica 50 celebrations song.

It is the view of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat that in this 50th anniversary year, all talented Jamaican artistes should be able to feel that their creative work has an equal opportunity to be a part of the national celebrations. As such, the re-scoped and restructured Jamaica 50 Project approved by the Government does not include any one song as the official Jamaica 50 celebrations song.

The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna has met with the Opposition Spokesperson on Culture, Ms. Olivia Grange presented to her the re-scoped and restructured Jamaica 50 program and frankly, openly and honestly discussed the Jamaica 50 program, including the status of the Michael Bennett-produced song. It was decided that the Michael Bennett-produced song, which was also a collaboration involving several artistes, would be used as partof the Jamaica 50 celebrations wherever appropriate.

This week, Minister Hanna spoke with Mr. Bennett and wrote to him pointing out the decision arrived at and informed him that given the strong emotive and patriotic value of the song, one suitable activity for which the song would be used is in the upcoming campaign to have workplaces promote the wearing of gold or yellow shirts on Fridays as part of theJamaica 50 celebrations.

The Michael Bennett-produced song will also be featuredagain as part of the launch of the One Million Pins Initiative set to coincide with the National Athletics Trials.

Many songs have been submitted by various artistes to theJamaica 50 Secretariat and the Secretariat has been discussing the best way for the public to have a say in which songs they think are suitable to be recognized as part of the Jamaica 50 Celebrations.

It is our view that one positive that the present discussions about a song for Jamaica 50 has accomplished is that theJamaica 50 Secretariat will now fast-track its determination on a public participation process, involving social and other media, that will possibly lead to a Jamaica 50 endorsed musical compilation. The Jamaica 50 Secretariat’s social media team is now working on a possible design of such a campaign and discussions have been initiated with a major telecoms provider on a texting platform to enable such a public participation initiative.

In all of this it should be recalled that the Jamaica Festival Song Competition, organized annually by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), has been the institutional vehicle through which a national commemorative song officially associated with the Independence celebrations, in any year, is selected.

There is the expectation that given the special significance ofJamaica 50, the Festival song selected by the JCDC this year will be accepted and enjoyed by the public in the spirit of the national celebrations.

It is unfortunate and regrettable that the promotional agency for the producer of the On a Mission marketing campaign song and a corporate sponsor of Jamaica 50, as part of the sponsor’s undertaking to promote the song, incorrectly branded a released CD and associated printed materials with the declaration of the On a Mission marketing campaign song as the official Jamaica 50 song, without the required vetting or approval of the Jamaica 50 Secretariat.

The secretariat has been in communication with the corporate sponsor on the matter and a meeting is being arranged with a view to correcting this situation and streamlining the communication, vetting and approval process going forward.

Recognizing its responsibility in the matter, the Jamaica 50 Secretariat will be instituting additional systems to improve and sharpen the vetting process for marketing and promotional activities and materials by our many values corporate partners and other stakeholders, who are all an integral part of the Jamaica 50 Project.

It is unfortunate that so much time has been devoted to a debate about a song for Jamaica 50 rather than about the real significance the Jamaica 50 milestone in the life the nation. Going forward the Jamaica 50 Secretariat and theMinistry of Youth and Culture will be focused on informing the public about the celebratory and legacy elements ofJamaica 50 and encouraging all Jamaicans to get involved.

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