If there’s one thing that Donnaray Roc Born is truly passionate about, it’s Dancehall music.
The multi-talented Jamaican creative, who hopped on the scene over 15 years ago as a choreographer, has since then grown and evolved as an award winning artistic director, talent developer, producer, among other facets.
A strong advocate for building and honing Dancehall culture in Jamaica and abroad, Donnaray is on a mission to spin the international conversation on Dancehall culture in a more positive light. To kick things off, she has started off in Ghana.
“Considering that Ghana is the gateway to Africa, I decided to go there first – tracing our origin, understanding our differences, similarities and background, as most Jamaicans are Ghanaians from the Ashanti tribe,” she explained. Getting to the root of the issue, as she explained, is essential in finding a solution.
“The majority of Ghanaians in the mainstream media see Dancehall to be an extremely negative genre,” she said, “As the Culture Ambassador and artistic director for Roc Factory, I have been instrumental in advocating & promoting positivity within Jamaican music & Dancehall culture outside Jamaica.”
The venture comes in a timely manner, when the music industry in Ghana has been affected by a series of actions that have unfortunately painted Dancehall in a negative light.
“Shatta Wale and Stonebwoy are huge Dancehall influencers in Ghana with loyal followers. Their beef initially started as a debate over who is seen as the 'King of Dancehall' in Ghana, which has escalated into an intense rivalry,” she explained, noting that the treatment of the issue stems from a misconception of what Dancehall culture is about. This is something that she is aiming to dispel. She added,
“There is a vibrant dancehall scene in Ghana and as an International Dancehall Culture Ambassador, my focus is being an educationalist on Dancehall culture; i.e. the music, fashion, lingo, dancing, etc.”
After some time and assessment in Ghana, she ignited “THE REBIRTH PROJECT” which is, as she describes, a grassroots premier movement that will positively bring change for brand Jamaica & Dancehall culture inside and outside.
“I have also created a full-scale program-oriented medium presenting positive dancehall music for mainstream airplay on a few FM platforms, while presenting dancehall themed events to educate, entertain and take away some of the negative stigma.” This is expected to culminate into a collaboration with key industry players, to promote a redefining series which harmonizes Jamaican music and culture.
She adds,“To change something, we must understand the way it’s created, formed and influenced. Our culture should be a priority to us all in Jamaica and when we are abroad. Artistes and enthusiasts who are not Jamaicans should research the core dimensions of our foundation and values, considering they also representing brand Jamaica.”