Five Minutes With: Everton Blender
Touted as being amoung the few artists able to successfully find a cohesive synthesis between the often inimical mediums of Dancehall and Culture Reggae, Everton Blender has not only managed to attain international success in a genre where others have struggled to be heard, but established himself as a pioneer in the quest to introduce Culture Reggae, to the mainstream. With an unprecidented slew of hits such as, “Lift Up Your Head”, “Ghetto People Song”, and “Gwaan Natty” the singer, songwriter, and producer still regards himself as only, “…a humble messenger…” trying to uplift and educate the masses with a message of positivity. I recently caught up with him and graciously he agreed to grant us a “Five Minutes With” interview.

Q.  Most of your audience are under the impression that your career began in the early 1990’s after you were introduced to Reggae producer Richard Bell, but in fact you actually released several singles in the late 1970’s. Could you tell us a little more about that early period of your career? How and when did your career in music begin?
A.  The first song I did was for Erick Bubbles in 1979 to 1980 with a song called, “Where Is Love” and then I recorded one called, “Want a Jumbo Jet” and “Riomino”. In the 80’s I did a song called “Shirley” and “Bar Bar Black Sheet”. I did a lot of tunes for other producers but I can’t remember off the bat… the names of the songs nor the producers. My career started shining in the early 90’s with Create A Sound (Me Nuh Just A Come) which was produced by Star Trail (Richard Bell) who is the one who let the light shine on me.
Q.  Your career in the music industry spans an impressive thirty years. The Reggae community has seen quite a few artist gain popularity then fade into obscurity. Yet, you are still aquiring new fans on a daily basis and your venues are always sold to capacity. Tell us, to what do you attribute your longevity?
A.  I sing songs that last for iver more.  Songs of upliftment, love for the youths and the teaching of Jah Rastafari. If I sing songs for the next 25 or 50 years from now, it will be a road of positive vibrations. From you sing good songs, it will last for iver more and remain fresh at all times. It’s all about the youths and guiding them in the right way.
Q. You are not only an artist in the reggae industry, but also a pioneer being one of the first to make the leap from recording music, to becoming the owner of your own recording label (Blend Dem Productions). What prompted your decision to do that and would you encourage other artists to follow suit? 
A.  You have to set a foundation for your kids and the youths them around, so that there can be guide in the right direction, in a positive way. It is music. There should be no limitations. One should produce, build studios, promote and do everything that is to do with music in a positive way. Doing other things in music is different from singing. It is great to develop the youths of today and if I can make a change in their eyes, I will.
Q.  Culture reggae saw it’s popular emergence and in some respects, it’s zenith, in the 1990’s. Since then there has been a noted shift in focus toward other genre’s in the industry. What do you see as the biggest obstacle to the expansion of ’culture’ reggae in our community?
A.  The biggest obstacle in the music is that they are not promoting culture music enough. It does not get the air time like the dancehall music. They tend to give the youths them what they want and not what they need. It is more about the money now than the love of good music and leading the youths in the right way. 
Q.  It appears that the ’culture’ genre is the most difficult in terms of obtaining exposure and also not the most financially lucrative. Even Bob Marley often commented on the difficulties. What has kept you focused on making culture music?
A.  Anything good is always harder to come by. And the fact is that, what culture has to say, babylon can’t handle the truth. Bob Marley did have it difficult (at) one time to be heard on the radio and had to do something about it just to be heard. But, if you sing some other things, it get played more. Jah said one day the table will turn, so we’re just going to put in the good work.

Q. The legendary Garnett Silk was not only a comtemporary of yours, but mentor of sorts. How impactful was his passing on you, and on culture music for that matter?

A.  Garnett was a great lost to the cultural side of the business because he contributed so much in that short time. It’s more than works can say. He was not just another artiste to me, he was my friend. In fact, he was the was the one who introduce me to Star Trail. I feel it to my heart when I hear any about Garnett Silk.

Q. You’ve had the opportunity to to perform all over the world. Is there a difference in the Jamaican reception to culture reggae versus the reception of the international community?
A.  Yes! there is a lot of difference in that in Jamaica, it is a (give and take) at times. When your hot your hot. …In Europe, Asia, Africa and West Coast America, the love culture music is more than other anything! It doesn’t matter the time of year.
Q. What is your opinion on the recent ban imposed on radio and television stations by the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission from airing songs that have sexually explicit or violent content?
A.  Well it is good to clean up the Air. Everything has it’s place in time and some things are not for kids to hear. It must be played in the dancehall. Dancehall is not for kids. T.V. and radio is. Well, as Jah says, “…let the wheat and tale grow until the day of harvest.” Youths live what they learn but the same mouth that say bad, can say good.
Q.  Your extensive thirty year career in reggae music must have provided you with a unique persepective ways it has grown and evolved, both negative and positive. With that being said, where would you like to see ’culture’ reggae in thirty years?
A.  Well I would love to see reggae music at the forefront of all the other music in the world and playing on every major radio in heavy rotation just like the pop and rock and roll.
And our artists and musicians start getting paid for the hard work they put in.
Q.  Do you have any projects that you are currently working on now or in the future that you would like to let you audience know about?
A.  I am currently working on a album right now and also planning to do a Europe and US tour later this year. 
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