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Antigua & Barbuda
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BIOGRAPHY At first glance, Anthony Brightly seems like the typical entrepreneur, struggling to ensure that his business venture gets off the ground, but chisel away at his simple façade and a talented business mogul emerges, with an impeccable background in the music industry. Born in London, England to Jamaican immigrants, Brightly, developed a love for music from his father, George Brightly, who after starting a small sound system from his home in the 1960s, advanced to establish two of the first reggae clubs in that part of the United Kingdom. Influenced by his father’s success in the music business, Brightly and group of friends revived his Dad’s sound system in the 1970’s. Named after his father, the “Sir George” Sound System grew to become the leading reggae sound system in the 1970s and would eventually springboard Brightly’s leap into the music industry. While still in school, the young keyboard player, along with five of his friends, created Black Slate, an early pioneer of UK based reggae music. The group saw early success, selling millions of records during the late seventies and early eighties. As a result, Brightly’s musical career soared, allowing the young musician to work with internationally renowned reggae artists like Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff, The Wailers and many others. “I’ve also performed with every major British artist. Dennis Brown, John Holt, Delroy Wilson…. I’ve worked with all of them,” recalls Brightly. A man of many talents indeed, following in his father’s footsteps yet again, Brightly also owned a series of popular night clubs in London and subsequently established the Brightly Music Publishing Company. Even with this busy schedule, Brightly would find time to visit Jamaica and some of the other Caribbean islands. Although, he didn’t know it at the time, his life was to change significantly when he set foot in Antigua. Like so many others before him, Brightly fell in love with Antigua’s warm climate and peaceful lifestyle. What’s more brightly’s childhood sweetheart, Debbie Peters had Antiguan roots and in 1998 (quite coincidentally) the two met again in Antigua. The local saying that “Old Fire Sticks are easy to light” proved true for the Brightly and Peters as they quickly rekindled the romance after a ten year break up. The businessman soon sold most of his UK interests and relocated to the “Land of Sun, Sea and Sand.” “I fell in love with the island,” sighs a smiling Brightly, who also admits that “he saw opportunities to develop various businesses locally.” Backed by two British investors, the creative entrepreneur made his foray into the lucrative real estate business, by purchasing four acres of scenic, hill top land in Buckleys, for the construction of a housing development. While his initial plan included several custom built bungalow-style properties, within a gated community, which would be marketed to expatriates (like himself) wishing to own a home on the island, Brightly, quickly modified the concept after finding it difficult to sell the project to his target group. “Most of the people coming home to live still have this old school mentality, where they preferred to purchase the land and build their own homes rather than purchase an existing home,” he discloses. Undaunted, the shrewd business man went back to the drawing board and after conducting his own research, developed a new concept – the Buckley Heights Country Club and Spa. He plans to offer membership to Antiguan based professionals. “Although people have different comfort zones, they all want one common thing; quality accommodations. Many persons don’t want to stay with relatives and they’re not interested in the more expensive beachfront properties. They want a village experience with the same quality of a beach front villa,” Brightly explains. After nearly six years of construction, the first phase of the project is scheduled for completion by April 2009, in time for the 2nd annual Romantic Rhythms Music Festival. Brightly is full of praises for the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Authority, which approved his application for concessions to complete construction on the complex. “I started building in 2002,” says Brightly, and “I never got a concession until last year,” he adds. The Buckley Heights Country Club and Spa will be the headquarters for DEJAM Antigua, another of Brightly’s successful music based business ventures. Started in 2004, the weeklong music festival, featuring DJ’s from all points of the globe, is deeply embedded into Brightly’s roots in the Sound System business. “When I decided to get married in 2002, we planned a small wedding but after informing them, most of my friends wanted to come. I ended up having more than 200 people at my wedding. Most of them spent the week, so I took them around, showed them the sites, took them on a couple of boat tours and of course with my background in music, we had a few beach parties,” recounts the Londoner turned Island man. These activities formed the template for the launch of the annual music festival. For many, organising, a music festival without any financial backing would be a lofty endeavour, but with Brightly’s profound knowledge of the industry, DEJAM Antigua lures more than two hundred British visitors to the island’s shores and is fast becoming one of the more recognized events of its time. Initially, the former night club owner and promoter wanted to stage a more concert oriented Peace and Love Festival, but conscious of the challenges of attracting the numbers to cover the costs of contracting the artist, Brightly chose a more cost effective avenue. “I didn’t think I had established myself enough to carry it off,” he says, while highlighting that “with DEJAM, I can afford the DJ’s and I am able to attract the numbers to make the venture viable.” Although, the festival, held during the last week of September (arguably, the slowest tourist period of the year) continues to bring plane loads of visitors to Antigua and Barbuda, DEJAM lost the Ministry of Tourism’s endorsement after only two years. Brightly says this is reportedly because “the country’s UK Tourism office wanted to distance itself from the event.” Nonetheless, the music aficionado, who has owned three night clubs and managed a radio station in the UK, takes his role of self appointed Tourism Ambassador quite seriously and is, satisfied with the positive feedback he’s receiving from the tourists he brings to the island. Brightly says “Best Holiday of my life,” is a common response posted on the website “ (Website hidden by Airbnb) from many of the more than 600 individuals, who have visited the island for the festival. “We create an environment; especially for people out of the UK, who have never in their lifetimes, experienced a holiday in paradise. Because the authorities don’t market to them, their perception is that paradise is something unattainable. There are many 25 year olds in the UK, who’ve only seen white sand and azure water beaches in films,” he says. Brightly continues “when I bring them here and they have a good time, they go back and talk about the festival and the island. Here’s where I’ve found my niche. Come on holiday with me and I will give you an experience you’ll never forget, I tell them.” He’s already planning for DEJAM Antigua 2009 and anticipates more than 300 visitors for the 6th annual event. He says with the addition of a DJ Awards Banquet, local support for the festival increases with each passing year. “People often stop me on the street or shout as I drive by [Brightly DEJAM was wicked this year, looking forward to next year] claims the festival organizer. “I distributed a couple of thousand DEJAM T-Shirts and Caps during the last festival and now I see them all over the place,” he adds. Brightly’s newest business venture involves him partnering with a leading financial institution in Antigua and Barbuda to establish a Wealth Management Fund, which allows investors to contribute to the fund and benefit from competitive returns while assisting with the development of lucrative Caribbean niches. Even with his multiple roles, the family man makes it a priority to spend quality time with his wife and his three children, who reside in Antigua. Hopefully, at least one of his offspring will carry on the Brightly tradition of mixing business and music to create a cocktail of success. Writen by Tracelyn Cornelius
BIOGRAPHY At first glance, Anthony Brightly seems like the typical entrepreneur, struggling to ensure that his business venture gets off the ground, but chisel away at his simple f…
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