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Raggamuffin's director and the Beenie Man controversy

Wed 16 Dec 2015 In: Entertainment View at NDHA

The man behind Raggamuffin festival and director of One World Entertainment, Andrew McManus, has spoken to Daily News about his reasonings behind taking controversial artist Beenie Man off the 2016 lineup and why Raggamuffin wants to be seen as a LGBTI friendly event. Beenie Man was taken off the Raggamuffin Festival lineup late last month and replaced with out lesbian sensation Diana King following concerns raised by on behalf of the LGBTI community.   Andrew McManus. Photo: Norm Oorloff Why did you decide to pull Beenie Man from the Raggamuffin lineup? Because when presented with the opportunity to clear the air and state his stance on homosexual people he hung up the phone and cut short the interview. Was Raggamuffin concerned by Beenie Man’s previous history of being taken off festival lineup’s both here in New Zealand and internationally? Yes we were but Raggamuffin is a festival that believes in second chances and that people can change and shouldn’t be judged on their actions according to what they did years ago. We were assured that when interviewed Beenie Man would clear the air and state that he is not homophobic and regrets his discriminatory lyrics as they were written a long time ago. Unfortunately he hung up on his interview with Gay NZ which was extremely disappointing for Raggamuffin as we put ourselves out for him so that he could have a second chance. Why is it important that Ragamuffin Festival be seen as LGBTI friendly? New Zealand is extremely progressive in terms of LGBTI, gay marriage was legalised over two years ago, and it disappointingly it hasn’t even been legalised yet in Australia. Many of our Reggae acts are from Jamaica, and unfortunately Jamaica has a reputation for being homophobic. That is not to say that all our Jamaicans acts are homophobic by any means… but nevertheless Raggamuffin still has a huge responsibility to start changing some people’s way of thinking. What is your personal stance regarding LGBTI people? Love is love, it is as simple as that. Raggamuffin festival does not discriminate based on age, gender, race or sexual orientation. Why was Diana King chosen to replace Beenie Man? She’s the first Jamaican artist to come out as gay. We admire her courage and…. Not only that she’s a talented musician who is much loved and an amazing person. She’s sure to get the crowd going at Raggamuffin and we can’t wait to see her perform live. What is the importance of having an all ages reggae festival in New Zealand? Reggae music is about coming together as a community. Music is passed down from generation to generation and we want parents to be able to bring their young children and teenagers and be able to share the experience of music together. We are also very much aware of the tough economic climate for many families these days, so by providing a free ticket for kids under 14, not only can parents share a fun day out with their kids, they are also saving money on costs associated with having their kids babysat. Controversial artist, Beenie Man What is Raggamuffin’s overarching ethos? The word Raggamuffin was a originally word penned to describe the ghetto street kids of Kingston. The youth then took on the term to describe their music. Since the introduction of urban music to our lineup, many of our original Raggamuffin punters have been disappointed with this choice. We want everyone to remember the root of the meaning of this word – our urban acts are essentially raggamuffins too – rappers like Ice Cube and Xzibit grew up in a neighbourhoods fueled by gangs, violence and drugs, The Game was shot 5 times. They got out of those neighbourhoods and made a better life for themselves, and I think that in itself is a powerful message. Raggamuffin gives smaller local reggae and urban acts the opportunity to perform on the same stages as their idols. Giving back is an important mantra of Raggamuffin, with the festival this year partnering with Raukatauri Music Therapy Trust - an organisation which provides music therapy to special needs children. A portion of all tickets sold will be donated to the cause. - 16th December 2015    


First published: Wednesday, 16th December 2015 - 3:12pm

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