It’s time to support community artists

Reno Silva

This past week in Portugal has been a whirlwind of excitement which has brought a huge sense of pride to our community. History was made as Luso-Canadian musician Peter Serrado participated in the “Festival da Canção” in Lisbon. Advancing to the finals after competing alongside some of Portugal’s biggest stars, Peter has now set the bar for all singers in our community.
I was fortunate to have been born into a musical family – watching my father and his band play the local Portuguese clubs until the age of 13, pursuing a career in the English music scene and returning in 2000, all the while keeping close relationships with many musicians within the Portuguese community. I’m here to tell you that in my lifetime, nothing has evolved. Our local scene has stayed the same for two reasons – Local media isn’t catering to the youth and overall the community doesn’t support music that isn’t traditional, popular or pimba.
There are some exceptions. Some outlets do a great job at supporting great local talent – Camões Radio proudly opens its airwaves to the best local musicians and the ACAPO has always given Luso-Canadian artists the opportunity to play on the Portugal Week stage alongside big names from Portugal. Unfortunately, most others fall short.
We seem to celebrate mediocrity. Parents are investing large amounts of money to record their children because they sound cute and someone has promised to make their kid a star. These CDs are played on our local radio stations, the singers are interviewed for local TV and they appear on our local stages to entertain us. When I ask why, I’m told “That’s what the community wants”, but I disagree. Why should our music scene be any different than the English-speaking scene? If some of our musicians aren’t good enough to be successful in the Canadian music market, why then should they be good enough for the local Portuguese music market? Why does the quality have to be different? We would never subject ourselves to such a low standard if we were listening to an English radio station, and we shouldn’t. Collectively, we need to open our minds musically.
Now, as a parent myself, I understand your passion. We all think our kids are great – that’s what we’re supposed to do. The bigger problem lies with the local self-proclaimed “experts” who are filling their pockets at your expense by feeding you lies, when they know very well that they will be the only ones profiting at your child’s expense. If someone thinks your child has talent, that person should be willing to make the investment as well. To the “experts” I ask that you stop recording crap. Be selective and leave a legacy. It is your job to get the best out of an artist.
There are many talented musicians in our community contributing to all genres of music and these should be developed and supported. Parents who think their children “have what it takes” should source out someone in the industry, preferably someone who’s involved in Canadian music. I believe it is imperative that singers are properly placed – especially if parents are going to invest in their career. Very few singers may be good enough to pursue a hugely successful music career, many are better suited for things like theatre, voiceover work or commercial work. Children aged 12 and 13 don’t have the voice they’ll have at 17 or 18, although there are some special circumstances where a “can’t-miss” singer comes along.
The scene has been the same for too long. Peter Serrado has set the bar – it’s time to recognize this and kick it up a notch.

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