Major Move for Caribbean Music At 2019 Essence Festival
The last few months have been great for creators and fans of Caribbean music. The music is getting lots of attention on multiple global platforms and we are all the way here for it. On this topic, even though the hype has come and gone, can we still take a moment of silence to acknowledge the major marketing move that was made for Caribbean music at Essence Festival this past weekend.
Essence Festival (sponsored by Coca Cola) is billed as the world’s largest, cultural, entertainment and empowerment experience and the largest celebration of global Black culture.* This annual event which currently takes place in New Orleans celebrated its twenty fifth anniversary this year. The festival has seen a steady increase of attendees with 2019 attracting almost half a million people.* *
In 2019, Afro-Caribbean music was showcased during the After Dark Line Up on July 5th at Republic NOLA. This event was special for so many reasons. Caribbean music did not get the customary five -minute session allotted in most major North American shows to appease the audience with ‘eclectic’ musical pallets. No, we got a full show from ten (10) PM until two (2) AM. Reggae, dancehall and soca was featured during the Reggae X Afrobeats session curated by Estelle. Featured artistes included Spice, Rotimi, Machel Montano, Wale, Kranium, Rafiya, Nick & Navi, Music by DJ Max Glazer and DJ Shacia Marley.
The best part of this experience was not the fact that our music was on display for thousands of people, it was not the fact that one of the strongest brands for Afro-American culture has started incorporating our music, it was the fact that Caribbean unity was on full display throughout the experience.
There did not seem to be any focus on differentiating between reggae, soca or dancehall. There was no
extreme emphasis on promoting one island over another. It was simply the strong presence of various successful Caribbean artistes across genres representing the entire region. That unity, as understated as it seems, is the golden key to opening the door to a sustainable global presence for all Caribbean music. A sustainable global presence opens the door to multiple streams of revenue for Caribbean artistes and all the supporting artisans in that musical eco-system. I hope this will not be the last we see of it.
Congratulations to all the ambassadors who represented the region well. Thank you to Estelle for curating this segment and being thoughtfully inclusive. It was a major move for Caribbean music.
SOUND OFF: What are your thoughts on the Caribbean presence at Essence Festival?
MISSION: To elevate the brand of Caribbean culture in the fields of MUSIC, BUSINESS and the ARTS by celebrating the work of cultural ambassadors while advocating for upcoming Caribbean talent1.