By presidential decree, the month of June was declared Caribbean Heritage Month within the United States by President Joe Biden. During the month, the accomplishments and the dreams of millions of people of Caribbean origin are being celebrated, and network television is driving the salutes to the region with waves of unprecedented coverage.
Jamaica’s tourism minister Ed Bartlett (right) at the PIX 11 TV studios in New York with morning show hosts Dan Mandarin (left) and Hazel Sanchez
Since the start of June, several networks have carried features on various parts of the Caribbean, some highlighting tourism, cuisine, music, dance, authors and other cultural triggers of the region. Last week, ABC Television carried a feature on Jamaican dancehall jaw dropper Spice articulating her journey in music, and defining her version of the difference between reggae and dancehall. “Dancehall is a very bold and expressive type of music”, Spice told ABC News, her indigo hair matching the color of her jacket. “Dancehall is dancing a lot, gyrating the waistline, it is a high tempo, high energy soundbox vibe”, Grace Hamilton, a/k/a Spice added.
ANTIGUA & BARBUDA CARNIVAL SEGMENT: L -R PIX 11 host Craig Treadway, dancer Natoya, Antigua & Barbuda tourism minister Charles Max Fernandez, dancer Tyra and PIX 11 host Kayla Rama at PIX 11 after the carnival dance segment
Over at Fox 5, the Caribbean spotlight fell on Jamaica-based Josef Bogdanovich, the CEO of Downsounds Records and the chairman of Summerfest Productions sharing information on the world’s greatest reggae festival, Reggae Sumfest.
The lion’s share of the television focus on the region has come from PIX 11, where the station has carried features on Jamaica, Barbados, French St. Martin, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, and more to come from the Dominican Republic.
Cultural tourism dominated the conversations. In the case of Jamaica, one of the guests was tourism minister Ed Bartlett who spoke to the allure and the diversity of the island.
“Our people are our most iconic attraction in Jamaica, and hospitality is in our DNA”, Minister Bartlett told New Yorkers. ” A 42% repeat business tells the story, and every other visitor you see on the beach has been to Jamaica at least once before”, Minister Bartlett added.
Reggae artist Chino McGregor and son of reggae icon Freddie McGregor also appeared on the Jamaica segment, performing his single Never Change and telling the American television audience about the upcoming Reggae Sumfest music festival to be held in Montego Bay in Jamaica.
“In orchestrating some of the segments, one element was important to me was to capture as much of the diversity of the region as we could, incorporating English-speaking islands, but not excluding the French and the Spanish siblings with their colors, their vibrancy and their gastronomy”, Dave Rodney, media marketing specialist revealed. And from the island of Jamaica, PIX 11, in its push for cultural diversity also carried a feature on Jamaican writer Andrew Minott with his new book Prove ‘Em Wrong, a celebration of biological and adoptive fathers, despite numerous challenges. Minott is a cousin of Jamaican music icon Sugar Minott.
Other participants in the wave of Caribbean publicity were Antigua & Barbuda’s tourism minister Charles Max Fernandez, the president of the French St. Martin Tourist office Valerie Demaseau, Alison Ross, senior vice president of the Portfolio Marketing Group representing the island of Anguilla and celebrity Caribbean chef Renee Blackman.
The high volume coverage is expected to continue throughout the month of June which is also being celebrated as Black Music Month. Caribbean Tourism Organization also celebrated a week of activities in New York last week. All the features are available for viewing online.
“This tremendous wave of publicity for the Caribbean will certainly be a boost for travel and tourism to the region, and even more television features are expected to come with the staging of New York’s premier reggae festival Groovin in the Park on Sunday June 24”, Dave Rodney added.