Category Archives: World A’Reggae News

Jimmy Cliff Interview 2008

Jimmy Cliff – Delivering Oneness on the Global Stage

Interview by Angus Taylor (reprinted from
Perhaps the greatest living Reggae star, Jimmy Cliff was instrumental in introducing Reggae to an international audience. Not only famous for his memorable music and energetic performances, the Jamaican-born legend is also renowned for his producing and acting skills (starring in the international hit movie The Harder They Come, and work on his own record label. Angus Taylor speaks to him about his incredible career and his upcoming one-off live appearance in Bournemouth (UK).

AT: You started in music as a teenager – did you always plan to be a singer?

JC: I always wanted to work in the entertainment business. I didn’t know whether I wanted to be a singer or an actor. As a matter of fact I started out in school as an actor. But I always wanted to be close to the entertainment world.

AT: So if you weren’t a singer would you have taken that path?

JC: Yes. I think I am established in many parts of the world as an actor along with my music. But to tell you truth acting is my first love.

AT: What do you think of the Harder They Come musical?

JC: I have seen it. I was present at its first opening. I quite liked it. I was very surprised. The man playing my part did a great job.

AT: Where you a guest of honour?

JC: Yes, of course I was.

AT: Why do you think audiences still respond to well to the story after all these years?

JC: I think that movie captured the spirit of a point in time in our history and in life. That point in time and the character I played are still valid today and probably will be valid throughout all times. There are certain films that capture the essence of the time and that is one of those movies,

AT: There was talk of a sequel.

JC: (Laughs) It is still in the pipeline – yes – we are having hitches along the way – but I’m still confident that it will be done.

AT: You come to the UK to play in Bournemouth on Wednesday 16th April – what can your fans expect?

JC: Well a lot of the fans will be expecting the songs, the music they know, of Jimmy Cliff so of course I will have to do a lot of those songs. But at the same time – what does Jimmy Cliff have to offer that is new? So I will have an opportunity to do some of that.

AT: So will you unveil some brand new songs?

JC: Yes, I intend to because my last album which came out – maybe two years ago?

AT: Black Magic

JC: Yes Black Magic. (2004) I don’t think a lot of people have seen me perform any songs from it. Those songs are still valid for me to perform, and there is some new material that I am currently writing. (Laughs) Maybe I’ll just do those songs acapella!

AT: You’re well known for your faster paced early Reggae hits but your roots tunes are very underrated – such as “Lets Turn The Table” and “Under Pressure”…

JC: That is true.

AT: Why?

JC: I think it is down to timing with certain songs timing and exposure. I think “Lets Turn The Table,” “Under Pressure,” a lot of songs like that didn’t get the exposure they needed. Part of it was my transition between record companies, for example.

AT: So it was mainly logistics. Do you think not being a Rasta affected your career during the Roots era?

JC: I didn’t wear dreadlocks but the concept of the Rasta… I don’t see how I could be a Jamaican and not embrace a sense of what is the concept of Rasta. Most people would say “oh he doesn’t have dreadlocks so he is not Rasta.” But my universal outlook on life means I couldn’t align myself with any one particular movement or religion so as to limit myself to anywhere or anything like that.

AT: You’ve seen Reggae from the very start – do you like where it’s going?Y

JC: Well it has two branches. It still has the roots branch… you know with a lot of the deejays and some singers,too, like Tarrus Riley and people like that, or Sizzla as a singjay as we say. So it still has the branch that sings about roots and culture and uplifting positive messages. And then there’s the other branch we call dancehall and that is really about… sex. I don’t condemn that part neither… I think there is a place for everything. I’m happy to see the two sides striving. But I would prefer and hope to see the roots and culture area getting more prominent but maybe we’re just going through that transition of time.

AT: Are you a fan of Tarrus?

JC: Yes. From a long time, even before he got popular.

AT: Who/what do you listen to these days?

JC: Well, I am the type of artist that likes to stay current. So I listen to every form of music that is going on that is current. So let’s say I’m in Peru or Mexico or Brazil. I will walk into a store and pick up things. I don’t really download because it is not easy to get stuff that is not popular. I often want to get things that are rare and not so popular. I especially like to pick up music that has the folklore, the roots, of that area of that country.

AT: That country’s own version of Reggae?

JC: That’s right.

AT: Not many acts play in England or the UK these days – or say it’s hard to play – do you find this?

JC: Personally I don’t. I don’t play a lot in England. In the old days I would do a British tour where I go up north, come down, do all over the country. I’ve not done that for a long time. Maybe today it is not economically viable with the big band that I travel with from Jamaica, to come to the UK to do a few shows – I don’t find it difficult. I have a few shows in the summer, including Glastonbury and other stuff.

AT: Your touring with a nine piece band – will there be a full horn section?

JC: Not a big horn section, we have just two horns – we have trumpet and tenor sax who will also double on alto.

AT: In terms of what UK fans are used to that is a big horn section!

JC: Yes. It’s a band that I’ve played with for quite a few years so I’ve bonded with them well and its good.

AT: Do you see yourself as more than just a Reggae singer?

JC: Well, first of all I see my self as an artist, a creative artist. And remember, when I came on the scene there was nothing called Reggae. So I had to help create that. I put in my energy, which is my own… a very upbeat part of the thing! And create what is now known as Reggae. But I’m a creative artist and I’ve put that into many different genres of music, but because my roots is Reggae, I will always be categorized as Reggae. But if you listen to a song like “Many Rivers To Cross,” can you classify that as Reggae?

AT: Do you have a message for your UK fans?

JC: Well I think we are a point in time of humanity where we have to become aware of ourselves and what is going on on our planet. I mean it has become a cliché word of sorts – global warming. But about seven or eight years ago I made an album called Save Our Planet Earth, just to show I was aware in those times. So I think there is something we can do about that and show our awareness. Then you have places like Darfur and Tibet that mean we have to become more aware of ourselves spiritually, some would say politically, globally. We are living in a global environment right now.


Maxi Priest Invited to Join UB40 2008

Maxi Priest Joins UB40 as Lead Singer

While Keyboardist Michael Virtue Resigns
by M. Peggy Quattro
March 26, 2008 – Reggae’s sweet and soulful singer Maxi Priest has been invited to replace former lead singer Ali Campbell as the new vocalist for Britain’s #1 Reggae export, UB40.

The band has been touring and recording despite Campbell’s January 2008 departure, and recently concluded a successful tour with Priest in Australia in February 2008, and to sold-out crowds in the UK in December 2007.

The association with Maxi Priest, expected to form a more permanent union, has already seen Priest record with UB40 and release a single of Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff.” A source close to the band said, “The recent recording session with Maxi Priest turned out brilliantly and the band is really buzzing about the year ahead.” It should be noted that UB40 and Maxi Priest are the only two British Reggae acts to achieve #1 status on Billboard’s Top 100 chart. Continue reading

Mikey Dread – Goes Home to Zion 2008

Mikey Dread – Legendary Performer, Producer & Broadcaster – Succumbs to Brain Tumor

It is reported that Michael “Mikey Dread” Campbell, aka Dread at the Controls, passed on to Zion, Sat., March 15, 2008 at 7 p.m. EST. He was surrounded by his family in the home of his sister in Connecticut at the time of his passing.

Mikey Dread was born in 1954 in Port Antonio, a lush small town on the northeastern tip of Jamaica. Mikey was an avid student who loved electronics. In 1976, after graduating from college, Mikey started out as an engineer with the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC). A collector of Reggae vinyl, Mikey wasn’t satisfied with the bland, foreign playlists that dominated the JBC radio waves, especially since the best Reggae was being recorded in their own backyard. After convincing JBC to give him his own radio program, “Dread At The Controls,” he assumed the moniker Mikey Dread, played nothing but Reggae and soon had the most popular show on JBC. Continue reading

Ziggy and Angelique Kidjo at NAACP Awards 2008


by M. Peggy Quattro

A highlight of the well-produced NAACP Image Awards held Feb. 14, 2008 in Los Angeles, CA, was the tribute to actress/activist and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Ruby Dee.

Angelique with Ziggy and Jay Leno at the Tonight Show

Performing “Sedjedo” from her Grammy-winning CD Djin Djin, the blonde-haired Benin-born Angelique Kidjo delivered a high-spirited and powerful performance. The diminutive world-renown star was dressed in a black tuxedo-style suit while her band was dressed in traditional African attire. High-heeled boots did not deter the World Music veteran from dancing exuberantly to the drum-fueled rhythm.

Joining her on stage, and featured on her latest CD, Ziggy Marley performed flawlessly alongside the lively Kidjo. Sung in Kidjo’s native Beninese, while bouncing on the Gogbahoun riddim, the ever-smiling comfortable-in-jeans Ziggy contributed by singing the English verses, perfectly connecting the music of Jamaica with the rhythm of Africa. Continue reading

Scorsese to Direct Marley Documentary 2008

Director Martin Scorsese set to Produce a Bob Marley Documentary

February 8, 2008 – It was reported in Variety online that famed director Martin Scorsese will team up with Steve Bing’s Shangri-La Entertainment and international sales agent Fortissimo Films to produce a yet-to-be-titled documentary about Reggae’s international super star Bob Marley.

Bob Marley Documentary coming 2010

Tuff Gong Pictures and Shangri-La are producing, and the Marley family has endorsed the film. The release date is set for Feb. 6, 2010, in honor of brother Bob’s 65th earth day.

Eldest son Ziggy was quoted as saying, “I am thrilled that the Marley family will finally have the opportunity to document our father’s legacy and are truly honored to have Mr. Scorsese guide the journey.”

The same three powerhouses teamed up to produce the Rolling Stones’ documentary “Shine a Light,” which opened the Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 7, 2008.

Ali Campbell Leaves UB 40 in 2008

Breaking Up the Band: Ali Campbell Leaves UB40 after 28 Years (and UB40’s Latest Response on January 28, 2008 is Below)

This is a messsage directly from Ali Campbell’s website where he explains his reasons for leaving UB40

January 27, 2008 – As one of the founder members of UB40, I have put the band first in my life for the last 28 years and am deeply saddened at the ending of that relationship. No words can express how upset I feel today that I have been forced to make this decision.

Ali Campbell leaves UB40

I am perhaps most upset on behalf of the fans, who have stuck with us, through thick and thin, throughout the years and are the best fans in the world. However, I feel that it is important for me to put the record straight on my reasons for leaving the band.

Contrary to some of the misleading, false information and accusations that have been circulating in recent months, the reason for my forthcoming departure from the band is NOT, as has been stated, due to my wanting to pursue a solo career. That is not the truth!! I released my first solo album 13 years ago and when I released my current solo album I had every intention to continuing to balance my solo career with my commitment to the band.

The reason for me leaving the band is that management difficulties, which have been ongoing for almost 5 years, had become intolerable. Continue reading