By Curtis Campbell–
While interviewing an artist, the question was asked, ‘Does Jamaica have a music museum’?
The artist, who asked the question, was being facetious, wasn’t he? Of course there is, but according to him, many of the younger members of the industry were ignorant about the roots of Jamaican music.
One of the reasons for this ignorance is the fact that young artists are not aware of a place where the island’s musical work is put together.
The Gleaner contacted curator of The Jamaica Music Museum, Herbie Miller, who was quite startled to hear that recording artists did not know about the museum.
He says the Jamaica Music Museum has been promoted online, on air, and in the print media.
Visitors checking out the various exhibitions at the Jamaica Music Museum
However, many Jamaicans don’t see museums as being institutions for their benefit, they believe they are for tourists.
“We are not a community of people inculcated to understand the function of museums. The importance of museums is not only for history reasons, but for contemporary development and how we learn from our forefathers and our symbols. We see museums as something for other people, for outsiders, and that is how the culture is set,” the curator said.
According to Miller, many Jamaicans have never been to a museum, with the exception of field trips under the school system. The curator believes it rare for Jamaican families to make the decision to visit museums as a means of learning about their culture.
He also believes some Jamaicans are so focused on one type of information that the various releases regarding the museums remain hidden under their noses.
“We have done exhibitions right across the island, we are online, we are on air, we have a display at the Norman Manley International Airport which stipulates that it’s a part of the Jamaica Music Museum. It is sad that some people just don’t know, but we have been blowing the trumpet at several media houses,” Miller said.
Herbie Miller giving a tour of the Jamaica Music Museum
Miller says the Jamaica Music Museum has been working closely with the Jamaica Recording Industry Association to get artists involved in its exhibitions and its many symposiums. However, the support from young artists is generally poor.
Miller revealed that less than six young artists have turned out at each exhibition, unlike veterans, who, he says, are more likely to share in the experience and donate samples of their work to the museum.
The curator also outlined that the museum has no bias as it relates to genres of music. Therefore, artists need not be hindered by the thought that contemporary forms of music are being ostracised by the museum.
“This is the Jamaica Music Museum and it is for the preservation of all our indigenous music kinds. Some youth feel that because it’s a museum the content is old. But then again, as a young artist, who is better to learn from than those who did it before you?” Miller questions.
Miller believes the theory behind Jamaican music needs to be given as much attention as performing.
He also reveals that the Jamaica Music Museum would be paying more attention to social media, saying youth mainly receive their information from that medium.
Miller went on to encourage young artists to support the exhibitions promoted by the Jamaica Music Museum and voice their opinions at the seminars and symposiums.
The curator also wants contemporary artists to focus on topics outside of the ordinary, to include information about global warming and natural disasters.
“We can’t just be doing music for music’s sake anymore. Had it not been for music, this country would be up in flames like many other countries in the world,” Miller says.
The Jamaica Music Museum is located at 10-16 East Street, at the corner of Tower Street. Call 922-0620-6 to donate music. Visit www.instituteofjamaica.org.jm.