“First off, I would like to say that I am not here to disrespect or discredit nobody, I am not here to bring down nobody, I have no agenda of my own (and) this is not any strategy to market nothing (myself/music). This is an experience that needs addressing publicly…I think if I don’t speak I wouldn’t be setting a proper example for those (who are) to come behind me, I wouldn’t be an advocate for other artistes like me striving to be the best to help be one of the pillar stone in bringing Grenada music to the world.
Those were the words spoken by Wrenroy ‘Blaka Dan’ Ogiste, who took to social media last week Tuesday to voice an experience and concern about what he considers unfair treatment meted out to him by Spicemas Corporation (SMC).
Speaking via facebook live dubbed “my experience,” the entertainer, who made his debut on the soca scene in 2012 with a song called “Three-dollar bread,” said he was contacted via Whatsapp by a female SMC representative on March 8, who offered him a gig to be a part of the April 27 launch of Spicemas 2019.
“I was asked would I be available to perform at the Grenada Spicemas launch…I responded to the message saying of course I would love to perform, however, I have a manager and I would put you on to my manager so (that) you can further discuss the booking. She said, they (SMC) would get back to me and I didn’t get any word until today (Tuesday, March 12), when I decided to contact the Spicemas representative for a follow up,” Blaka Dan said.
However, the SMC representative informed him that he did not make contact with his manager as yet but would keep trying.
“She told me that my manager will contact me,” however, when Blaka Dan contacted his manager, he learned that negotiations broke down when the representative requested that he perform for free at the upcoming SMC launch.
“My manager said during negotiations Spicemas said that all artistes will be performing for free on that night (but) my commonsense would tell me that even the people that putting on the event would have a salary to get, they not working for free…my common sense would tell me that whoever coming and set up the stage…are not coming and do it for free…the MC for the night would not come and hold that mic for free.
So, I asked myself why it is that the artistes, the person that coming to put down the show have to come and sing for free (while) everybody else get to work for money…when this is what we live by it’s how we make our money to survive.
Blaka Dan related that he then sent a message to the SMC representative letting her know that he “felt disrespected.”
The entertainer, who has performed at multiple charitable events in the past also pointed out that “she (the SMC) representative) didn’t even give an explanation as to whether or not it (Spicemas launch 2019) was a charitable event.”
“Mind you, I have performed for multiple charitable events…if a promoter come and ask me to perform for a charitable cause I would give my service, however, Spicemas launch is not a charitable event”, he added.
The soca entertainer indicated that when he contacted the newly installed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Spicemas Kelvin Jacob, he told him that all artistes were being asked to perform for free and that “he saw it as an opportunity for artistes to give back.”
However, Blaka Dan contended: “Why is it (that) only the artistes are being asked to give back…who (are) the artistes actually giving back
to…why is it (that) the CEO and everybody else not working for free (but) you say to the artistes, (the ones that) people coming to look at, that they have to come and sing for free”.
“…How we songs does write, how do our producers and videographers get paid, how do I reach to your event, what do I wear, what do I eat…”, said Blaka Dan who is seeking answers to the questions.
He went on: “This (Spicemas) launch is not a charitable event…there is a bar there, where does this money go to, who does this money go to…Mr. CEO, I would say to you with the utmost respect, you have no right to tell me when I ought to give back. I would say to you to prove to me that everybody on your staff does not get pay on the night of the Spicemas launch; provide that proof to me and I would work on that stage and sing for my fans, sing for my people with grace and perform…I would spend my hard earn money, I would buy my own clothes, pay my own bus, buy my own food”.
Since making his debut in 2012, Blaka Dan, who was crowned Groovy Monarch the following year with his hit tune “Whole Day we Jammin,” said he has been doing his best to maintain relevance on the local music scene, helping to keep the National Groovy Monarch competition to a level which he feels is appreciated by most people.
“I have worked hard and dedicated myself to bringing forth a product that is appreciated not just by Grenadians but the further world looking on to Grenada,” said the entertainer, who has traveled to numerous countries representing Grenada both regionally and internationally.
“I would not have earned that respect, not just from those in authority but from the ground of people striving for betterment. We as artistes does work hard – it’s not just get up and write a song. We have a lot of sleepless nights trying to finish one song…there are times when we have to walk to the studio (and) we don’t know how we getting back (home).
“There are times when we need a back up singer and we don’t have money to pay them. There are times we have to ask people for favours in Grenada. There are times, the kind of service that people give to us we can’t repay them, just based on our position and how we are treated and it’s a lot of work it’s very difficult.
“To maintain a status in Grenada, it’s not easy and after all that you put in…the least you would expect from people put in place to manage you is respect,” he added.
Attempts made by THE NEW TODAY to contact SMC CEO Jacob for clarity on the issue up until press time on Wednesday proved futile.