Written by Eddy Jatta & Alieu Khan

open micThe Open Mic Festival is unquestionably the biggest and the most successful music festival that features local talent.  On the 28th December, more than 20 artists from different genres took to the stage and belted out their hit songs to a stadium full of screaming fans. Gambians abroad were also able to watch it live via video streaming. 

However, this year’s festival was not spared controversy.   Some of the senior musicians were not pleased with the organisers. Award-winning singer, Singateh went on Facebook to warn his fellow artists to be wary of promoters, who are only out to fatten their pockets.

A reliable source disclosed to What’s On – Gambia that some of the hired artists almost boycotted the festival after a run in with the organisers.  They wanted more pay and were disappointed that no food, drinks or transport was provided during their rehearsals with Humanity Band at Sinatra's in Bakau.

Our source, who is managing one of the artists that performed, said: “They offered D7, 500 to some of the artists. Most of us thought that was too small for a festival that draws thousands of people and the ticket cost nothing less than D100.”

Entertainment entrepreneur, Valentine Kabby Banjakey was not pleased with some of the criticism heaped on Open Mic. He took to Facebook to express his dissatisfaction. According to him the entertainment industry is making huge strides and now is the time to stick together and make things better.

He lashed out at the critics calling them grumpy, moronic and myopic people who failed to realise that the festival is bigger than them. Valentine added: “ ... but the buffoons,  who selfishly and deliberately try to bring down what we all share must be prayed for, so  that their rotten souls heal.”

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Meanwhile, Afro-manding new comer, Bro K is now riding high after a successful performance at the festival. Atirinkak is in full force!

One of the golden rules of entertainment is to always leave your fans wanting more and that’s what the Badidbou-born singer did. Unlike ST, Vypa and few others, Bro K had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He got the stadium pumping with an up-tempo rendition of his hit single, Sunkunto.

Surrounded by few other upcoming artists, the Sunkunto singer exerted all his energy into his performance. He blasted the festival’s saboteurs - telling them to shut up and let Gambian music progress.

International Gambian reggae star, Rebellion D’Recaller was the headline act. It was his debut appearance at the Open Mic festival.  He entertained the crowd with some of his signature songs; including We Must Rebel and American singer/producer Hakim of Sunland Music was on stage to support him with the chorus. Wicked!

Guess who brought the curtain down at the stadium? Gee!! His hit single Bul Falleh Nyee sparked a mass singalong with the crowd taking the lead on some of the verses. 

Kudos to the organisers!


Photo: © Alhagie Manka