from The Daily Beast

Can This Very Private, Very Rich American Save Reggae?

UNLIKELY AMBASSADOR – Joe Bogdanovich doesn’t like to talk about his fortune. He doesn’t even like to say how old he is. Instead he lets his passion projects promoting reggae talk for him.

by Marianne Schaefer Trench

Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty

Jamaican reggae music has an unlikely yet passionate ambassador—a white American businessman of a certain age who is investing big energy and even bigger money to spread the gospel of reggae and lure tourists to its source. His name is Joe Bogdanovich. This California native could have invested his fortune anywhere in the world, but he chose the island nation of Jamaica. He doesn’t like to talk about where his money originally came from, but it is well known that he is the grandson and heir of the late Martin J. Bogdanovich, the founder of StarKist Tuna.

“There’s a lot of poverty here,” Bogdanovich says of the Caribbean island with just 3 million inhabitants, roughly the population of Brooklyn. “But there’s also a lot of talent. Talent means there are a lot of opportunities. It’s a small enough country that you can make a difference. I really believe that, and some people say I already have.”

Bogdanovich’s investment in Jamaican entertainment remains unmatched and has silenced suspicions that he’s yet another white man trying to exploit the native culture for his own gain.

Just recently his reggae festival Sumfest 2022 pumped $20 million into the Jamaican economy. It was the culmination of Bogdanovich’s involvement in Jamaica that dates to 1999, when he moved his Los Angeles company DownSound Records to Kingston and began developing local talent that eventually crossed borders, including Nuff Nuff, Ninjaman, Elephant Man and Nanko. In a tale straight out of the hit movie The Harder They Come, Nanko had come from the countryside to Kingston and worked as a squeegee man until his musical talent was discovered. Bogdanovich even made his business tactics and problems public by putting himself in a humorous music video pitting Ninjaman against the upstart Specialist Dweet.

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