Raggamuffin Concert celebrates Pacific artists

Raggamuffin fans

By Unumoe Esera

APIA: Thursday 6 September 2012: The Raggamuffin Music Concert which will be held at Funway Park at Matautu this Saturday will be a celebration of Pacific artists.

Big names in the music industry overseas such as Spawn Breezie, Monsta, Swizz and Savage and also Brotha D, Manager of the Dawn Raid Entertainment label which represents all the overseas artists have traveled to Samoa for the event.

“I am proud and privileged to be here,” said Brotha D. He introduced all the artists starting with Swizz who was sitting on his right; the young artist of Tongan descent resides in Brisbane, Australia. Next to Swizz was Monsta from Long Beach California in America.

“Monsta has traveled to Samoa previously to film one of his music videos with J Boog another Samoan artist based in Hawaii.  New Zealand hip hop artist of hit song Swing, Savage hails from the village of Lalomanu, Aleipata. Spawn Breezie has not arrived into the country but will make his appearance on stage at the concert on Saturday.

Local bands and artists will also showcase their music such as singer Ben Vai and reggae band Tama Uli with its unique brand of original reggae music as previously showcased at the UB40 concert for the 50th Independence celebrations at the Apia Park.

“I’m very proud of this event and thank the Samoa Tourism Authority for allowing Raggamuffin to be part of the Teuila week’s events,” said Ben Vai

Jackman Productions, Dawn Raid Entertainment and the Samoa Tourism Authority collaborated to bring the Raggamuffin Concert to Samoa.

Raggamuffin Concert is an annual event in New Zealand and this is the first time the event has been brought to Samoan shores.

Spawn Breeze, Brotha D, Ben Vai and Savage

“Raggamuffin is all about promoting island reggae. It’s been around for a little while and has become pretty popular due to artists such as Spawn Breezie, J Boog and Swizz. It’s quite popular in New Zealand and its finding its feet in the U.S. Che Fu has been pushing it for awhile in NZ,” said Brotha D.

Asked how they as Pacific islanders were taking their music for internationally exposure.

“It was a dream of mine to have a big concert here in Samoa and that happened in 2006 in front of the Government building. I’ve tried to come back home every two years and it is a privilege to come back again each time and perform for my people and to know that I’m supported by our own people. It is also an honor for me to be one of the first Polynesians to break the U.S market. I was signed with Universal Records but they couldn’t put me into any genre as I wasn’t Latino or African American and so I called upon our people to support us,” he said.

He then signed again with his first record label Dawn Raid Entertainment and they traveled to Samoa to film the video clip to ‘Wild Out’ which he considers “an anthem to our people and the Pacific.” He then sent out a request to other Polynesian artists to appear in his video and Monsta flew from Australia, J Boog came from Hawaii and Spawn Breezie from Missouri, America all appeared in his music video.

“I guess the message I’m putting out there is that anything is possible. I lived in Motootua. We (Polynesian artists) started the music award for the Urban category as there was no Urban category in the New Zealand Music Awards before. Having a double platinum album is a huge accomplishment for me and I want to tell all the up and coming artists in Samoa, no matter how many people tell you that you can’t do it you can achieve anything through hard work and discipline,” said Savage.

Swizz gave a little insight into his musical background.

“I started writing and producing music when I was 14 years old from Australia and now my music has reached Hawaii and the United States of America which is something that really pushed me to do better. I consider myself lucky,” he said.

Monsta said he was part of Boo Yah Tribe and sang in a band called the Loonies before he went solo and has sold platinum records. “Our footprint has been in the sand. I was involved in the gang culture before and that kind of messed me up a little bit but I changed and I moved to Australia. I came back to experience the culture and my roots. Our culture is very deep and very rich,” he said.

Ben Vai, representative for local artists said before he returned back to Samoa he was based in Hawaii singing back up for Fiji  in his performances held in Seattle, Utah and Las Vegas.  “Samoa does not have enough events to influence upcoming artist,” he said.

He said the Government should look into having more concerts in Samoa.

“Raggamuffin organized by Jackman Productions is like a reunion for me to catch up with Brotha D and Savage and Swizz is doing great on the airwaves,” he said.

Savage said that their job was also to promote Samoa. “It’s a beautiful country with waterfalls, beaches, sliding rocks. You can’t get it anywhere else in the world. Our people are very traditional and are the best at hosting. You got to know where you come from and our people are very talented when it comes to music,” he said.

He said that this is the first Raggamuffin concert in Samoa and as a hip hop artist it’s great and Ben Vai was also in his first concert “This concert is held to nurture the youth to carry the banner and keep the music alive,” said Savage.

Brotha D said that 30,000 to 40,000 people in New Zealand attend the Raggamuffin concert every year and Polynesian artists and also international musicians like Shaggy and Sean Kingston perform there.

“Our local talent is very special and goes to show how we’ve come along way. Samoa needs to move away from television competitions like Star Search and Samoan Idolz and focus more on the stage that’s how you get to establish yourself internationally and make more noise overseas. This is the first Raggamuffin in Samoa and we hope to make it a memorable one,” he said.

Jackie Frasier-Sanders of Jackman Productions said that she was really honored to bring Raggamuffin to Samoa thanks to support from the local Government and the artists. The Raggamuffin combined with the Riggamuffin regatta was a splendid idea as it has something to do with the culture which would keep building and shouting about Samoa.

Asked why they had decided to hold it in Samoa “I’m a little bit biased as there are a lot of Samoan artists and it is a beautiful place. We also considering the population and a Tourism Sector looking to do something like this,” she said.

An agreement of three years has been signed with the Samoa Tourism Authority to have the Raggamuffin Concert held in Samoa alongside the Riggamuffin regatta.

“She’s been here the last six weeks and has come to really push this and attract more tourists to this country for the local talents. As for me it’s something I do from my heart,” said Savage.

Swizz a first timer in Samoa said it’s been great weather and also an opportunity for him to experience another culture and the people are friendly.

So what can we expect from Raggamuffin come Saturday? According to Jackie, eight hours of music, 16 bands, a fast moving show, 30 minutes to an hour for acts from overseas and local talents to perform three to four songs with hosts from Mai FM, New Zealand  and interactive activities to gain prizes.  She also said it is a family friendly event with tickets selling from $100 for V.I.P access and $30 tala for general admission sold from their stall in front of the Government building.

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