Women in Music sat down with Ebonnie Rowe, founder of Honey Jam Barbados, a developmental programme which provides educational , networking, mentoring and performance opportunities for young female artists in the region. We sat down with Ebonnie to learn about her history and hear her advice for advancing as a Woman in Music.
1. Success is such a personal concept – we all see and define it differently. How did you personally define your success?
Success for me is to do work that is fulfilling, that feeds my soul and that benefits others in a positive way. It is focusing the full extent of my enthusiasm, commitment and drive on what I have a passion to achieve, and then achieving those goals, barreling through all obstacles and getting back up from every fall and setback. Success for me is about service. Bob Marley said, “if my life is just for me I don’t want it.” Marian Wright Edelman said, “Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time. Being able to serve others in a positive and meaningful way is a large part of what success means to me.”
2. What advice would you give women who want to enter your side of the industry - What are your top three tips?
be very clear on specifically what it is you want to achieve
be prepared to do the necessary work and to take every opportunity to learn
find mentors you respect and who know more than you to advise and guide
3. How have the personal and professional experiences in your life contributed to your success today?
That’s a broad question! Every personal and professional experience over decades has contributed to my success. Every experience and interaction is an opportunity to learn or to act as a cautionary tale.
4. Can you share with us some of the challenges you’ve faced?
Funding of the developmental programme I run for young female artists has been a huge challenge. I am very driven and this is a passion project for me so I always find a way to make things happen. Where there is a will there is a way is a cliche but very true. Sexual harrassment, being respected as a woman in charge is a challenge, finding committed, reliable people to work with is a challenge, managing the workload, but there is really non time to sit around whining about it - there is work to be done so I just keep moving forward to find solutions to the challenges.
5. What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Believe in what you are doing. If you dont then no one else will. There is a law of attraction. Be confident. Have faith. Trust your gut. A set back is a setup for a comeback. Stay positive and do the work.
6. What do you think is the most pressing issue women in the music industry face in your region?
I work in North America and the Caribbean. In the Caribbean some of the pressing issues include performance opportunities, affordability of demo and track production, access to funding for projects, ability to get in front of industry reps with international experience who can further their careers.
7. Who inspires you, and why?
So many people, quotes, images, events inspire me. Too many to list. I seek out inspiration every day to keep my spirits up and keep me motivated. People who inspire me are those who are strong and who make a difference in the world, who have honour and integrity, who succeed against the odds, who are fearless, who push the envelope and challenge the status quo, who fight against injustice, who want to change the world.
8. What do you look forward to accomplishing at HoneyJam in the next year? In Barbados I want to secure sustainable funding, to set up valuable and impactful post-programme developmental opportunities. I would also like to work on performance opportunities for them outside of Barbados. We also produce a Jazz show called Honey Jazz which is growing into a multi-event festival starting in 2017. I would like to be able to bring in international acts to join the local lineup and make it an event tourists fly in to attend.
9. Tell us more about how you got involved in HoneyJam?
I started it in 1995. I edited an all female issue of a Canadian entertainment magazine dedicated to women in hip hop and discussing misogyny in the music. We had a wrap party to celebrate the publication and called it Honey Jam. Everyone asked when is the next one? I was a full time legal assistant and was also running a mentoring programme for at risk Black youth at the time so I had no plans on doing anything like this but everyone was so enthusiastic and clearly there was a need so I told myself I would do it for a year and see how it went and here we are 21 years later. My roots are in Barbados so I brought it here 6 years ago.
10.What is your ultimate goal for this organization and what do you need to take it to the next level?
Sustainable funding, a group of professional, driven, reliable passionate partners to make up my team to execute our goals. To be selfsufficient through monetizing merchandising opportunities and larger events that can accommodate more door receipts