Recently, I stopped over at Big Ship Studios to catch up with Freddie McGregor and get his take on the growth of the Reggae industry over the decades and his take on it's current state. I couldn't think of a better person to speak on the industry than him. He's been in the biz since age seven and has worked with just about everyone, traveled around the globe as a reggae ambassador and his children are now following in his steps as Reggae heavy hitters themselves. Chino is a chart-topping singjay, his son Stephen is the hottest producer in Jamaica right now and his daughter Shema has the voice of an angel:-)

This is Reggae royalty talking to you here, read on and get educated:

1. Do you remember your first introduction to Reggae music?
Yes. My first introduction was in 1963 when I first went to Coxsone's Studio One (the first black-owned studio in Jamaica) on Brentford Road in Kingston 13. I had hooked up with a group called The Clarendonians, true we came from the same place in Clarendon, and Ernie and myself we went to the same primary school. So he knew of me and that’s how we hooked up. Then it was time for a recording session for them in Kingston and I accompanied them.

2. When people think of Reggae they generally think Bob Marley, peace, positive vibrations, conscious lyrics. How do YOU define Reggae and what does it mean to you?
That’s what it really means to people worldwide, I think they are being honest in saying that, because that is what grabbed the interests of people overseas. The love, the culture that we spread through our music. People became fascinated with that, hence the reason Bob Marley became so powerful among other artists. A lot of us are known for both our lover’s side and our conscious side, but that’s what we do and offer-part of who we are.

3. I personally think that Reggae is a lot about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Do you feel any pressure from the commercialization of music to say things just to sell records?
No, because we try to beat down the system every chance we get. Every wrongdoing we see, we try express it through song. So, we are that kind of people. We fight for the oppressed.

4. Are there any trends in the industry that you welcome and/or that you would like to see go away?
Um, there are a number of them that I do admire and there are some that could go away. Of course like most things, everything is not going to be perfect and that’s why we are here, to keep fighting so we can organize ourselves as a people and a nation; through music, through whatever form. Not all things we can change, some things we can try and control--we should try and control; but I don’t think we’ll be able to change it in its entirety.

5. What would you say is your greatest contribution to Reggae music thus far?
I would hope that my contribution would be viewed as one who has contributed in many different ways to our music especially and our culture. We have put in a lot of work from 1963 to 2010. That’s many years; and we fought vigorously for the music to become what it is today and to have reached where it is right now. A lot of people wouldn’t understand that from just being out there enjoying what we do. But to understand the struggles that we’ve been through,for example, you’re in a foreign country and the promoter just run off with the money.Your ticket is booked to go back tomorrow, and if you don’t go back tomorrow that’s the end of your ticket. So you very well have to just hold a stiff face, go back to your hotel room—if you have one, and make your way to the airport tomorrow.But those are our struggles, among other things, and we’ve been through a lot of it, just for the sake of the music

6. Reggae has been blended with so many genres from opera to Rock and Roll, to Hip-Hop and even Bhangra. Is this a plus for the industry or a loss of some sort?
It has been a plus, because as a people we know we came here through slavery and so the culture, the tradition passes on and fortunately for us we can pick up pretty much from where we first started which has not been many years compared to certain countries who have thousands of years of history. Ours- we can go back to just over 400 years which is not that far away down the road. So it is easier to associate where we are with where we started the question is where we should be going.

7.Is Reggae month really necessary? What meaning does it hold for you?
Reggae month is very necessary, very essential. It is something that could become really powerful for our country. If we market Reggae Month properly it will be a huge success. This is a time period in our country where we can pull loads of foreigners here for a celebration. A month-long celebration all across the island-Fiwisinting, just about all the events that we’ve done. If we are able to get proper advertising and marketing, we can pull this off. We have the artists, the talent, this is Jamaica, this is Reggae country, this is Reggae Month. We can plan our activities, we can pull all the foreigners here and they would be happy to be here to support and to come to all the events-dance, Kumina, so many different types going on within Reggae Month that it would eventually become a big tourist attraction for our country. (Of course it would benefit inside Jamaica through the people who put on the events, but the Jamaican public in general, what’s the benefit for them?) The benefit would be-a lot of the activities that we’ve done are free. I don’t know that all the activities would be. We culminate Reggae Month with a JARIA award to people who we think have contributed to Reggae over the years and presently. It wouldn’t necessarily go well with the current-day awards, as they tend to honor the people who are current today. But there are people who have done the work, some have gone ahead but they deserve to be awarded

Click HERE to read Freddie's 20 Questions Interview!

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