June 2, 2023


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Gooden wants more help for young people in performing arts | Entertainment

Opera singer Patricia ‘Pat’ Gooden says she wishes to see greater opportunities made available for Jamaican youth in the performing arts and beyond.

Prior to her expected relocation to England after spending more than half of her adult life here, Gooden told The Gleaner on Monday that more needed to be done to promote Jamaican children’s artistic talents in music and theatre.

The 83-year-old musical industry veteran lamented the need for some of the more established artistes to interact with the younger, up-and-coming talent, especially in situations where they are unable to help themselves.

“We need to help them because we’ve had our time,” she said, adding that, “the talent is everywhere.”

Gooden feared that nation was not doing enough to market and showcase Jamaican talent not only locally but overseas but were instead, continuing to ‘ride on the coattails’ of reggae icon, Bob Marley.

“We’ve always pushed the reggae thing … [but] there’s more, I mean our folk music here is terrific, everything stems from something else,” she added.

Gooden, who is of Scottish nationality, said that while she understood that it took not only time but more importantly the money to ensure this happened, children with talent needed the help to break free from their socioeconomic status and challenges which barred their true potential.

“I was fortunate because I had the talent from I was a small child and I was onstage and I had people to help me … but these kids, [their talent], it’s there and they will never get the opportunity to express it,” she said.

She lobbied for private and public sector players to invest in Jamaica’s future performers.

“The talent in Jamaica is so incredible and it grieves me because so many of these children from where they live, their areas, they’ll never know, they’ll never be exposed [to the arts],” she lamented.

Gooden said that she anticipates the push for inclusivity in representing all other genres of music being practised in Jamaica would be a difficult one given the takeover of dancehall music.

She added that she was glad to see more films coming out with greater participation of young people but believed that the country could still “do more”.

“We have wonderful choirs, we have young orchestras coming up, all that is part of Jamaica and I think they need to be exposed more so that the world can see that Jamaica is the best,” she said.

Gooden has performed with the Jamaica Constabulary Force Band for more than 20 years and the military band of Jamaica since the 1970s. She also performed for 15 years with the Alpha Academy band and for 27 years with the choir at Maxfield Park Children’s Home.

Additionally, she had spent decades working at the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company.

Gooden said that she remained hopeful, as the years go by, that the Government, private sector companies and other non-governmental organisations would find ways to help children to fulfil their ambitions through education.

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