This week we interview M. Peggy Quattro, founder and publisher of Reggae Report International Magazine. For more than 25 years, Reggae Report has been the source of news and information on Reggae music worldwide. As ReggaeReport.com, it is still one of the premier sources on Reggae music as it forges ahead in the digital generation. Here is our conversation with M. Peggy Quattro:
What is your connection to Jamaica?
Reggae music drew me in and brought me to Jamaica. My business, as well as the people, food, and friends, has kept me going back for nearly 30 years. And my daughter Arielle is half Jamaican, as well.
When did you first fall in love with Reggae music?
In 1976, while living in Nϋrnberg, Germany. My German friends played Jimmy Cliff’s “Harder They Come” and followed with some Bob Marley music, who was touring Germany at the time. I fell in love with the rhythm, the message, and never looked back.
How did you get the idea to publish a magazine about Reggae music?
I returned to Miami after living in Europe for nearly seven years. On May 11, 1981, I began working for Don Taylor, manager of Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff. Sadly, it was the day Bob passed and I had this odd feeling that I was there for a reason. I soon met Jimmy, and Gregory Isaacs, and several other artists while working for Don, and later for Joe Gibbs. My American friends had no idea who or what I was talking about–Reggae and these stars–and I was shocked and perplexed. After all, they were huge in Europe. In 1983, I began Reggae Report, with Mikey Zappow, as a way to get the word out to the South Florida massive. Besides, there was really no other magazine covering Reggae solely at that time.
Do you consider your self a pioneer in Reggae?
Yes, I do. I came in the business in the early 80s, Reggae was still young, but in the US it was basically undiscovered. I introduced the music, and practically all of the performers and producers at the time, to a new base of American fans, and later, South American, and international music fans. I was in the trenches, so to speak, and committed to spreading the Reggae message and culture.
What was the response to the magazine when it first came out?
The first two issues were one sheet of paper reporting on Miami bands and acts, and upcoming shows and club events. The response was positive, so we progressed to a small magazine, and by 1984, Reggae Report was a full fledged magazine.
The first issue was probably the most challenging. Can you tell us a story about the challenges of the first couple issues?
Content was never the challenge. Getting advertisers to support us was the biggest challenge. Is it black? Is it white? They didn’t know where to place it. The magazine was free until Jimmy Cliff told me one day to put a price on it! So in 1984 the cover price became 95 cents! Big money! Fans soon bought the magazines. That encouraged me and then I encouraged subscribers.
Is there a specific issue of the magazine that you will never forget because of who you featured?
There’s so many. I always loved doing the annual Marley Tributes. The Garnet Silk issue is special because he died soon after, in a fire at his mother’s home. I loved spending time with him and his family at his home, he was warm, witty, and he gave a great interview.
In all the years publishing who was your favorite interview?
The Lucky Dube interviews were always great. He was totally awesome. He was open to questions on any topic. He was so funny and very smart; you never knew what he was going to say. Lucky was/is a classic example of an international Reggae star.
When did you transition from print to digital?
In the early 90s. I saw the Internet train coming, and it was heading straight for us! I stopped publishing the printed mag in 1998. By 1999, I had established the first ReggaeReport.com web site.
Who is your favorite Reggae artist of today?
Can’t pick just one. Love Cherine Anderson and her work ethic, same with Germany’s Gentleman. From JA, love Gyptian, Queen Ifrica, and Shaggy, still, of course! As for a new band, I love Rootz Underground.
Do you like the direction that Reggae music is going in?
I think it’s searching for a direction right now. Swerved from Roots to Culture to Lover’s Rock to Dancehall. Then Dancehall went too far into glamorizing violence and the gunman t’ing, and was a little too ‘slack’ for my taste. The government and the media in Jamaica could—and should—do so much more to put Reggae back on track. There are groups and organizations out there now working hard to add some structure to the music business, and producers working hard to bring back the rhythm, instruments, and positive lyrics that the world grew to love—and wants to hear.
Bob Marley or Burning Spear?
I love Spear, but Bob Marley all the way.
What is playing on your iPod right now?
Still Bob Marley, and Stephen too… I love his Mind Control CD. I love the 80s and 90s music…Dennis Brown, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse. Also enjoy Joss Stone, John Legend, Black Eye Peas.
Do you have any new projects in the works?
At this time I am VP of Communications for the Jamaica Arts Development Foundation. A group of music, arts, and business professionals with a goal to structure the education and development opportunities for Reggae musicians in Jamaica, North America, and the UK. The mission is to work with colleges and universities to host events and provide programs and workshops that will enable young talent to understand the music business, thus giving them a chance to progress professionally on the world stage. I also provide independent promo and public, press, media, and community relations for the music industry, as well as for destination brands, and products looking to reach Caribbean, American, and international fans – same way Reggae Report did.
Thanks for the time. Any closing thoughts?
Thank you for your interest. With nearly 30 years in the Reggae business, I still look forward to the day when this music is looked at and accepted as the international phenom that it is, and its music makers are recognized and acknowledged for the music and culture they created. I am pleased and honored to be part of Reggae history.