‘Music will heal us’

The Jamaican singer, who is currently on a month-long tour of Europe, told theJamaica Observer she was not surprised by the last-minute call up.

“My team got a call saying Rototom has an opening on the 22nd. They said yesâ and negotiations came after. At no point was anyone asked: Who was being replaced? Or made any mention of any other artiste,” she told the Observer.

Saturday’s performance would make it Etana’s third tour of duty on the festival and she promises a fine set.

“My first performance on Rototom Festival was in 2008. I believe then, it was in Italy. My fans should expect a fantastic performance, even better than they saw me the last time in 2012,” she said.

Matisyahu was booted from the 24-year festival by organisers after failing to endorse Palestinian statehood.

On his Facebook page, the reggae act said: “My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music.”

Etana, who said she hasn’t been asked to make any similar endorsements, is optimistic that music will unite everyone.

“The world has been at war for generations over religion, money, oil, even the colour of skin, and I can go on and on. However, music has been known to heal, strengthen and unite the people. Matisyahu has the right to chose and it’s unfortunate that he will not be able to perform. Just like his message, mine is also of peace and love. I don’t believe in religious and political war but I know the power of reggae music. Music has no prejudice and neither do I,” she said.

In a statement, the festival’s organiser said: “We did not say NO to Matisyahu because he has Hebrew roots or as a Zionist, but we just simply considered inappropriate organising something that would certainly generate a conflict, without any possibility of dialogue.”

“I think nobody is a winner in this story: the association which invented a boycott of an incredible violence, Matisyahu who in a legitimate but inopportune way never decided to open a dialogue, we the Rototom who, of course, could not manage things the way we would have liked to and at the end the Rototom audience who lost a high quality concert,” it read in part.

Etana (given name Shauna McKenzie) is known for her albums Strong One, Better Tomorrow, Free Expressions and I Rise.


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