Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Esther Phillips
I believe it would be beneficial for us Barbadians, including our artists, to consider three sayings with which we are quite familiar: wuh sweeten goat-mout does bun e tail; wuh aint catch yuh aint pass yuh; wuh yuh sow yuh does reap!
The debate as to whether or not the artist has the right to express his/her art without regard for social, cultural or other considerations or standards, is not new.
There are, for example, some singers, musicians, visual and graphic artists, creative writers, among others, who, under the banner of “artistic freedom” take the opportunity to unleash the coward or rebel on the inside, and in so doing, show no regard whatsoever for the impact made on the society in which they themselves live.
Let me be clear: with his/her finely tuned senses, imagination and giftings in a particular genre, the artist is perhaps best poised to grasp what is really going on in a society, and to mirror, unflinchingly, that reality back to us.
The question, however, is: how is this to be done? If we take music, for example, who among us would be so disingenuous as to suggest that music and its lyrics are not among the most powerful of influences on the human psyche, senses, emotions and perhaps most
I’m inviting our artists who have not done so yet, to think seriously about the role they play in their society, and to reflect on whether or not freedom is possible without responsibility. Artists must understand the times in which we’re now living, and ask themselves if the “freedom” of their expression might influence particularly the young and impressionable to the extent that those young ones end up losing their own freedom or even their lives.
I also believe it would be beneficial for artists, especially those in the music world, to bear in mind that crowd adulation is a fickle thing.
The adoration of fans today may turn to curses tomorrow when an entire society is forced to eat the bitter fruit grown from seeds sown on the way to their so-called success. In their mature years when it is likely to matter, no amount of money will buy the respect so easily discarded for the sake of the moment.
Renowned Barbadian poet, Kamau Brathwaite, was fearless in critiquing his society. He did not mince his words in pointing out the ills of racism, hypocrisy and the blatant inequalities brought about by colour and class. But it would do us all good, I think, to reflect on Kamau’s words in his poem, “nine mesongs fe the new millennium:”
Be great cultivators. both of soil & soul. because is only in that way will there be a Tomorrow’s Harvest… Educate yrself, yr children and yr community in/to these things in the way they shd go – in the way we shd grow. So think on these things, dream on these things. act on these dreams.
What kinds of dreams do we have as a society? What is the artist’s role in helping us to realise these dreams? What kind of harvest are we hoping to reap?