SPLA : Portal to cultural diversity


© kekene
Singer, Guitarist
Column : Music
Solomon Islands
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Jason Wesley, or Jaggah as he is best known among colleagues, friends and the local music industry, started an "unplanned musical journey" as a primary school student, singing in classrooms when teachers are not around and gathering friends around the village in Buala, Isabel Province, to "entertain" other children using home-made ukulele. 


Classroom stints moved on to church choirs until a new passion was discovered in high school, programming music. Jaggah spent a lot of time "abusing the school chapel keyboard and sacrificing pocket money to buy batteries" to practice. This proved worthwhile as keyboard skills emerged within the determined young man, and programming became "an easy task". The passion developed into a driving need to "test the grounds" and his first break was helping an emerging girl band from the village, "Siuli", programming music for 5 albums. Hard work and dedication was with little notice that the path taken was leading him to his musical destiny.

Jaggah has always been deeply rooted to African music, a significant interest that strongly influences his style in music programming. With the demise of Suili, the search was on for singers interested in using tracks that were already available. Jaggah's search only pointed back to himself when friends encouraged him to give singing a go and "that was my U-turn".


Jaggah was later approached to play gigs with once popular local band, Amrock Solid and Jaggah was instrumental in programming music for the band's second album. The experience broadened his musical experience and prompted him to form his own group, Kekene, which launched its album "Soleana" in 2005 which was a huge success with its hit track "Milo milo".


In 2006, Jaggah scooped two PNG awards: "Song of the Year" for Milo milo and "South Pacific Artist of the Year".


Describing music as "an avenue to translate someone's experience to put across what they want to say", Jaggah maintains island style as his "music reference point". This keeps his music consistent in style and "it is my musical signature that listeners pick up easily even if I'm programming for someone else".


Apart from singing, Jaggah plays the keyboard, guitar, choreographs dances to popular African tunes including (late) Lucky Dube, O'yaba. 


Juggling music and a formal career with the national broadcaster, Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) sales department, Jaggah refers to music and singing as escapism after a hard day, bringing out "the happy person in me and music is indirectly my mouthpiece to express my inner thoughts".


An optimistic young man, Jaggah strives to uplift the island music genre to the world market, to reach all four corners of the globe. With a local music industry that is struggling to make ends meet, Jaggah believes that "in order to reach the promise land, one has to first go through the wilderness".


In his contribution towards music development in the country, Jaggah is a key player and the brains behind the initiatives of hosting the first Solo Music Awards, Super 10 Music Show, Top 5 Bands of the Month and the High School Musical Battle.

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