Seretse Small of Griot Music, making Jamaica the live music capital of the world
YardEdge: Why are you an artist/musician?
Seretse: Because I believe…I believe in the power of identity….the value of expression…the need for us as once enslaved people to be able to stand up whole and declare who we are.
YardEdge: When did you first realize that you wanted to become one?
Seretse: 1983 at EXED Community College when I was looking at colleges to study architecture and found myself looking at their music programs instead.
YardEdge: How would you describe your work?
Seretse: Long term and developmental…shaping musicians lives to create a community of great music.
YardEdge: How did you develop your skill (s)?
Seretse: I studied at the Jamaica School of Music and the Berklee Jazz College…there was a time when I practiced 12 hours a day.
I read a lot about many things…think and plot…and then take extreme risks in performance and business.
YardEdge: What artists/musicians have influenced you and how?
Seretse: My guitar playing style is heavily influenced by Earl Klugh and George Benson. My leadership style is patterned off Michael Dyke one of my main teachers at the Jamaica School of Music. My approach to learning and practicing was ingrained in me by Ray Hitchins an awesome guitarist…My love of screaming guitar was passed on to me by my first musical mentor Andrew Simpson (Simo). Van Halen was also a huge influence…Simo introduced me to him.
YardEdge: What inspires you?
Seretse: The beauty of my daughter…the great fun and sexy vibe that I experience with my girlfriend…to see musicians grow.
YardEdge: Tell us about Griot Music Publishing? What is it about?
Seretse: We are about improving the quality of life of Caribbean people through music publishing. We are a development focused organization with the mantra “people first, music second” because we are building something sustainable, not just to “mek a money”. We focus on our strength in live music…we intend to make Jamaica the live music capital of the world through developing performers and venues and then taking it to the world through recordings, tours and digital downloads
YardEdge: Tell us about Live Music Nation? What is that about? What inspired you to do it?
Seretse: Based on our success at Christopher’s Jazz Café over the last three years we are expanding our offering from 2 nights a week to 7 nights a week at different venues. There will be quality live music everyday of the week in Kingston for 50 weeks of the year. There is a nation within the nation of Jamaica that many of us are not aware of. It is an army of performers and music lovers whose tastes are extremely diverse and cosmopolitan.
The music industry is no longer sustainable as it stands….there needs to be a way for performers to develop and become strong beautiful products that can travel anywhere in the world. The Live Music Nation will create multiple continuous forums for the promotion and development of music and performers in Kingston…I have been inspired by the seventies, and the metropolitan cities that I have been to such as Boston that have thriving, sustainable live music scenes.
YardEdge: What kind of response/feedback/success have you been having with Live Nation Music?
Seretse: The musicians are excited about the opportunity…some venues get it and are running with us….most are waiting to fully commit…the media really gets it and are supporting us fully.
YardEdge: What are your greatest challenges in your work?
Seretse: Working with “Duppyized” people…people who are moved almost 100% by feelings and vibe. They have very little staying power. So finding the right people to form teams for projects is tough. It has taken almost eight years for me to find the team that I now have.
YardEdge: What are your greatest rewards?
Seretse: Hearing my daughter say that she is proud of me.
YardEdge: Do you enjoy doing music as a “business”?
Seretse: It is a challenge…I wouldn’t say that I enjoy it…I enjoy the challenge…and I am looking forward to the day when we are richer for it…richer in every way possible..especially musically.
YardEdge: How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
Seretse: Lots of research and sacrifices…having been unable to find anyone who would manage me as a Jazz Artist because dancehall is so lucrative in comparison…I have had to manage my self…I have had to give up many opportunities as an artist to be a better manager…and now I guide and manage others.
YardEdge: How would people who know you describe you?
Seretse: As an intense, overly intellectual, kind of goofy but wicked guitarist who has a heart for making a difference and is not afraid to fail spectacularly.
YardEdge: If you could be doing anything you wanted, what would that be?
Seretse: I would be a guitarist with an amazing music company with a fabulous daughter and deliciously compatible girlfriend.
YardEdge: What gets you up in the morning?
Seretse: The opportunities to make a difference in my company and change the world.
YardEdge: Morning person?
Seretse: Used to be…now I am a late night Adult Swim/Family Guy person.
YardEdge: Last book you read?
Seretse: Complete Idiot’s Guide to Project Management
YardEdge: Last CD you bought? Downloaded?
Seretse: Compilation of Soft Rock
YardEdge: Favorite movie? Why?
Seretse: I love lots of movies…but the one that I will watch anytime it comes on cable is “Talladega Nights” with Will Ferrell. I love the scene at the table where Ricky Bobby is saying grace to baby jesus and being passive aggressive about it.
YardEdge: Any regrets?
Seretse: I wish that I wasn’t so incompetent in my first marriage.
YardEdge: Tell us a secret?
Seretse: I used to be a dancer as a teenager in the early eighties just before popping and break dancing came in fashion and used to do the “hustle” in competitions.
YardEdge: Final thoughts?
Seretse: We have great lives, doan mek nuhbody fool yuh…we are a great people.
You can contact Seretse through his website: http://www.griotpublishing.com
Buy Seretse’s music “Silo Sessions” from iTunes here.