British music mogul Simon Cowell is reportedly hunting reggae acts for his Syco Music label which is distributed by Sony Music Entertainment. According to a highly-placed source who works with the label, Cowell has been interested in signing reggae artistes for some time.
"With the emerging trends in music, and reggae and dancehall having an impact on mainstream radio in the United Kingdom due to exposure by artistes such as Stylo G and Sean Paul, the feeling is Syco is ready to work with a reggae act," the source, who requested anonymity, told the Sunday Observer.
"Simon has persons in the field looking for the next big name in reggae. I am not sure he will be looking at Jamaica but definitely it could be someone in the UK."
Cowell founded Syco Music (also known as Syco Records) in 2002. Its most successful acts are British soul singer Leona Lewis, boy group One Direction, pop singer Gareth Gates, Susan Boyle and Alexandra Burke.
Melanie Amaro, a native of the United States Virgin Islands and winner of the inaugural US X Factor, is also signed to Syco.
Jamaican pop music has had a following in the UK since the early 1960s, starting with the ska hit My Boy Lollipop by singer Millie Small.
Rocksteady, roots-reggae and dancehall acts followed. Desmond Dekker, Ken Boothe, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Althea and Donna, Susan Cadogan, Boris Gardiner, Barrington Levy, Sophia George, Beenie Man, Shabba Ranks, Shaggy and Freddie McGregor, have scored major hits on British pop charts.
However, Jamaican music's visibility on mainstream radio and charts have waned in recent years.
Carlyle Williams, a UK-based events promoter with Sun Rave Entertainment, says the music is in transition.
"Artistes like Stylo G, even though he is not moving major units like the pop acts, has critical acclaim and gets credit from the mainstream acts," Williams said. "I believe that with the right push, the music will once again grow to the stage that it once was."
He says Cowell's reported interest in dancehall/reggae attests to the music's influence in pop culture.
"His interest will boost the industry, as the domino effect will lead to persons or fans looking towards the Jamaican artiste for the authentic reggae music," said Williams.
The 54-year-old Cowell rose to fame as the obnoxious co-host of the American Idol talent show. He is also known in the UK for his role as a judge on talent shows including Pop Idol, the X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor USA.
In 2004 and 2010, Time Magazine named Cowell among its 100 Most Influential People in The World.