Artistes secure your future: You never know
No one knows the time or the hour. We all know this too well but it behooves every man to put aside something, by way of investment, for old age. Yes, we see it all the time and know this all too well; we know the stories of many who once were thought to be 'well off' or civil servants who worked for ages in the system and left with nothing or squandered whatever they had, drank it, womanized it-squandered in some way and now have become paupers, dependent on Red Clinics and public welfare for the next meal.
In addition, with reference to illness we must recognize that we do not have the luxuries of government ministers and other wealthy individuals who can fly out at will to the French islands for urgent medical care and so we must store something for when and if such illnesses present themselves.
True, the Bible declares that we must not be over-anxious about tomorrow as God Himself takes care of the birds of the fields far less us whom He has made in his own image and likeness; nonetheless, we are also told to exercise wisdom and save and tithe.
Life is hard and white collar workers can hardly save a penny much less daily paid blue collar workers and tradesmen who depend on others to be paid for work done. However, I feel a particular concern for artistes and musicians who have been marginalized mainly due to their own ineptitude and lack of awareness of their own future.
More often than not they were teenagers, in their early twenties and thirties and before you know it it's the big 40 and the fans are gone. The screams, the girls, the lights, being in the spotlight are no more. You become a 'has been', 'was,' another generation has taken your place, you become old school and your child's mother is waiting for the money to buy school books.
Now reality kicks in. You don't really work anymore, no more gigs, the tours have dwindled and so has the albums, you don't even own a guitar, though in your day you played with so many upscale brands.
There is a silence, an uncanny silence, the alcohol, parties and drugs used to ketch your high is now used to drown your sorrows; you're broke and no one cares if you were once famous. A new star has been born and the cycle begins all over again.
You should have realized long before that life as an artiste in Dominica is largely a phase and not a vocation. One can count on one hand those who have remained here and are able to feed their children, are provided with a pension, as Fitzroy Williams once said in an interview. Now this is complimentary and that's what all those who call themselves musicians should aspire to do. It's a business, a profession and the right things and approaches must be put in place early for there is life after the party. Some artistes don't even join a copyright organization to secure royalties!
Too many Bele & Quadrille dancers, singers, calypsonians, musicians whom we see today are referred to as parros or mad persons who line our streets asking, begging for bread even while we dance to their music.
Well, if the country does not have the means to take care of these individuals where are the family members or a music association to bring their plight to the fore?
The playing field for Social Security is being pushed back ensuring that most will depart this world without receiving a pension even after contributing to a scheme for 40 or more years- ridiculous! If things continue on this path the next generation of pensioners will not benefit anything from this institution as fewer contribute and more is paid out in benefits.
Therefore, I would certainly encourage artistes to have some sort of savings scheme in addition to one's voluntary contribution to the Social Security. As Bobb, the artiste, says "you never know" because society owes no one ( they are proud to say) while being quick to tell you that you owe the country; and you must use your skills, service, income tax, to make WCMF and Independence activities look good, to play the drums, make everyone have a nice time.
My heart aches when I see Brian, Mervin, Jiggers, Archie and scores of others roam aimlessly, because when that golden voice is gone, or that hand is suffering with arthritis, or sanity is lost, there will more than likely be no one to answer to your call or dance to this beat.
So musicians, artistes, life and death is in the hands of a Greater Power, but we were promised three scores and ten years to live; so invest something in your future for you never know- you never know.