Music industry vet Schlarb encourages Buju to take on US tour

June 3, 2024

article reposted by Chelsea


American music industry veteran Chris Schlarb is excited about dancehall superstar Buju Banton’s return to United States stages.

The last time Buju Banton performed in the United States it was the year 2009 in promotion of his Rasta Got Soul album.

Although dogged by gay rights groups, who demanded Banton apologise for his anti-homosexual stance in his music, that 32-date trek was considered a success.

On July 13, the Grammy winner is scheduled to headline the Long Walk to Freedom show at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. That venue, home to National Hockey League team New York Islanders, has a 18,500 capacity.

This show is the latest in a series of the same name marking Buju Banton’s release from prison in the US on drug-related charges. The first, in March 2019, was an epic event at the National Stadium in Kingston.

Schlarb, who worked on several shows in New York with the singjay, has no doubt the UBS Arena gig will be a success.

“Buju Banton has always been a transformative artiste in that he always chose his venues very well in New York City. I had the opportunity to work at several of his shows, whether it was The Theater at Madison Square Garden with Beres Hammond, or the Hammerstein Ballroom with Wayne Wonder, or his exclusive showcase in Times Square for his Friends For Life album launch with VP Records with big hip hop stars in the building,” Schlarb told the
Jamaica Observer.

“He has always given the fans exactly what they want. I have no doubt in my mind, especially after the carefully calculated success at Kingston’s National Stadium, that this will be a sell-out show and a top-tier dancehall event for the summer in NYC,” he continued.

Schlarb operates DubShot Records with Murray Elias, another seasoned American industry player. Both worked with VP Records, the Queens, New York-based company that has distributed albums and songs by Buju Banton.

Given the artiste’s extended absence from the US, Schlarb believes a summer tour of the country would also be a winner.

“I think it would be tremendous to set his own path on a national tour of the USA, like Sean Paul and the Marleys. He knows very well the benefits and how strenuous a tour like that can be; its a big step, so hopefully he can continue his awe-inspiring run of publicity and promotions to get the people excited for another run in the USA for the Gargamel,” he said.

Banton was deported to Jamaica in December 2018 after serving eight years in federal prison. The initial Long Walk to Freedom show was a mammoth affair that set the pace for similar events in The Bahamas, Barbados, St Kitts-Nevis, Grenada, and Trinidad and Tobago.

He has since performed in Europe, won the Jamaica Festival Song Competition, and released two albums.

Rasta Got Soul was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best Reggae Album in 2010 but lost to Stephen Marley’s Mind Control (acoustic version).

Buju Banton won that award the following year with Before The Dawn.

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