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Canadian documentary sheds light on the dark side of dancehall

Aired as part of Black History Month activities, the film explores the impact this genre of music is having on society, according to an interview with Barry posted on the website.

“The images that are presented in this form of music are generally negative and I wanted to hear from a wide group their views,” Barry said. “I needed to know if there were any redeeming qualities to take away from this music.”

The seasoned entertainer and Juno Award-winner spoke with psychologists, activists, family life specialists, doctors and musicians in pursuit of answers and indicated that the responses were “alarming in their content”.

Recognising the popularity of dancehall, Barry also sought the thoughts and reactions of the genre’s many fans, seeking positive comments as well as insight into the public’s fascination with the dominant sound in Jamaican music.

“I understand that there are generations of listeners who have heard only dancehall reggae and obviously enjoy that form of music,” she noted. “I am not trying to change anyone’s preference, but there should be music appreciation in schools, so that from an early age all children would have knowledge of all types of music.

“I think that reggae music was laid out clearly by Bob Marley … that music should be a healing and uniting force. The current form of dancehall reggae does not adhere in any way to those standards,” she added. 

Barry, who was inducted into the Canadian Black Music Hall of Fame in 2003, also touched on the area of responsibility on the part of artists.

“Music artists are for many young people the only role model they have. They are respected and emulated. So if the image that you project is that of a thug, or someone who has no respect for authority figures, or one that is homophobic, shows only disdain and disrespect for women, then your fans will take on the same behaviour and attitudes. If you show intolerance, indifference, disrespect, impatience, then fans believe that’s how life should be,” she indicated.  

“Life is very difficult now — unemployment, financial problems, environmental disasters, etc — all of that is making for a very volatile existence. Then we add to all that the chaos of having the “stars” of the  day record songs that tell you to be as bad as you want to be just to get over. How can that be a society that will grow, thrive and give credence to its citizens?” she added.

Barry, who migrated to Canada at age seven, is an actress and award-winning singer with nine gold records and two platinum albums. In 1985 she appeared in the movie Rappin’, starring Mario Van Peebles.

Reprinted from Caribbean360

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