When one thinks of the persona Gaza Sheba, the deep female voice on songs like Like Christmas and You and Him Deh come to mind.
All were hit collaborations with incarcerated deejay Vybz Kartel. But in a recent Instagram Live, the singjay, who goes by Sheba now, said she has never received royalties for those songs.
“Mi a di first person weh can seh f**k off to royalty cause everybody else mi see benefit from it and mi nuh see one f**k,” she said. “From mi join BMI and Jack Russell Music from 2012 I never get a dollar from them yet… One a di agent tell mi seh a mussi Addi collect mi royalties dem dats why mi nah get it… mi nuh know how that go cause fi tell yuh di truth mi nuh understand nothing bout it, so mi just leave it alone.”
Jack Russell Music and Broadcast Music Inc (BMI) are performance rights organisations (PROs) for songwriters. BMI is one of the world’s leading PROs and requires creatives to register and submit songs performed using a specific form to benefit from royalties. Songwriters shouldn’t be mere authors, but copyright holders of the work.
Taking break from music
It could be that Sheba has no copyright for the songs written, which ought to have been expressed in whatever contract she had while under Kartel’s label.
But Sheba’s predicament extends beyond the Gaza camp. She added that she isn’t making money from music, period.
“I ain’t making sh*t from music, and a years now mi nah mek money from music and mi still a live, mi still nuh hungry,” she said. “Well, when mi deh a Jamaica sometimes mi did hungry mi nah tell nuh lie… all when mi did deh a Gaza mi did still hungry some a di time.”
The artiste is currently in the United States where she’s taking a break from music to expand her horizons.
“Mi just don’t dig music right now… I would never give up music, but it’s a pandemic right now, nothing nuh really a gwaan… mi nah spend a ton a f**king money a gi weh weh mi nah mek back…. Dem deh a waste movement, better mi save dem money deh and try open a business right now,” she said.
“Mi realise seh nuff a dem people ya inna music where dem go wrong, dem nuh invest inna nothing and den when music done that’s just it, dem nav nothing fi fall back on. Big up girl like Stacious and suh. Yuh notice dem nah kill up themselves fi do music cause dem have a business.”