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Unlike its neighbour Japan, China does not have a big following of reggae and Caribbean music. But steps are being taken to change that.
The four-day (April 30-May 3) Caribbean Music Festival in Beijing, the China capital, saw the promotion of Caribbean music in the world’s largest economy.
The festival was organised by the Ministry of Culture in China in collaboration with the embassies of participating countries including Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, Panama and Barbados. It is part of the China-Latin America and Caribbean Year of Culture Exchange initiated by Chinese president Xi Jinping.
According to Brad Hemmings of booking agency Caribbean Entertainment, the first event was encouraging.
“The successful first staging will undoubtedly mean continuity and expansion of this cultural exchange activity going forward. It not only provided opportunities for cultural exchange but a stage for our Caribbean artistes to showcase their amazing talent to a virtually untapped Asian market,” he said.
Performers included Jamaican roots singer Everton Blender, Barbadian singer Rupee (best known for the hit song Tempted To Touch), Antiguan soca artiste Tizzy, Grenadian Mr Killa, Mitchell Brunnings from Suriname, Panamanian reggaeton artiste David L and Lil Bitts from Trinidad.
“Surprisingly, they (Chinese) were very receptive. They were curious but cautious at first, but eventually the rhythms took over and they were dancing and interacting with the performers,” said Hemmings.
An estimated 10,000 patrons came out to the festival. Expatriates, including Caribbean nationals, were among the attendees.
Blender, known for hits including Lift Up Your Head and Piece of Di Blender, spoke about his Chinese debut.
“It was a really good experience especially being my first time performing in China, I received a warm welcome from the locals, and there were even Jamaicans in the crowd as well. There was an interpreter on the stage, so I even sang some of my lyrics in Chinese much to the delight of my Beijing fans.”
Source: JA Observer