A Tribute – Gone But Never Forgotten
Words and Photos by Lee Abel
“Bob Marley said,
‘How long shall they kill our prophets
while we stand aside and look’
But little did he know
that eventually the enemy will stand aside and look
while we slash and kill our own brothers
knowing that already they are the victims of the situation”
Delivered by his grandmother on a farm near the small mining town of Ermelo on August 3, 1964, he was not given a name. He was not expected to live. But like every other challenge, save one, that was to follow in his 43 years, he refused to be a victim. The Apartheid system in South Africa provided little opportunity for proper health care, quality education, or employment. Its rigid laws cruelly dictated the movements of black families and individuals. Furthermore, his father had a liquor habit and abandoned the family before he was born. His mother Sarah left shortly after to seek domestic work in Johannesburg, hoping to send money back, rarely able to. He stayed behind in a mud hut, cared for by his beloved grandmother who nourished him, body and soul.
Junior Reid and Michael Rose: Veteran Vocalists Blend Genres and Eras
By Angus Taylor
August 29, 2008 – London, England – A sparsely attended Forum in Kentish Town witnessed two veterans who have fought to stay current in an ever-changing reggae market. Former Black Uhuru singers Michael Rose and Junior Reid faced a tough assignment in a one-third capacity crowd wearied by an afternoon at the sound systems of Notting Hill, but their steely professionalism and refusal to let nostalgia rule made this a select gathering to remember.
Despite being announced with little fanfare, Dawn Penn and the Righttrak Band dutifully warmed up the place; building to her smash hit “No No No.” Roots artist Iqula followed with a fiery set featuring an electric cello while clenching a red gold and green flag in his fist, exiting to the first hearty cheers.
Michael Rose and the Dubline Band took no chances making their entrance, starting with stripped down renditions of “Party Next Door,” “Sponji Reggae” and “I Love King Selassie,” furnished by tinkling piano and hard, reverberated snares. Continue reading →
David Hinds: On Tour, On New Album, on United Front for Africa
Interview and Photos by Jan Salzman / Edited by M. Peggy Quattro
July 14, 2008 – Malibu, CA – Steel Pulse has been one of my favorite bands for about 25 years. In 1985, the popular band from Birmingham won the coveted Grammy award for their album Babylon The Bandit. More Grammy nominations came for Victims, Rastafari Centennial, Rage and Fury, Living Legacy, and African Holocaust. Steel Pulse has recorded 16 albums throughout their illustrious career.
David Hinds, central songwriter and lead singer, hails from Birmingham, England. His music has always been tinged with political opinions; he makes his stand in the name of justice. There are also spiritually uplifting songs and deep love songs. This year celebrates 30 years since the release of their first album, Handsworth Revolution, in 1978. David is eloquent, kind, and remains boyishly cute after all these years. Together with his associate, vocalist and keyboardist Selwyn Brown, they form the core of Steel Pulse. I caught up with David Hinds recently at the Malibu Inn. After a tightly packed show, he took time to answer a few questions. Here is my interview with David Hinds: Continue reading →
Jimmy Cliff – Delivering Oneness on the Global Stage
Interview by Angus Taylor (reprinted from reggaenews.co.uk)
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.
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.
Jamaica’s Rootz Underground and France’s Babylon Circus
Deliver High-Energy Roots Ska Reggae
By M. Peggy Quattro
Photos Lynn Dearing
April 27, 2008 – Miami, FL – The award-winning 20-year-old Rhythm Foundation once again presented the best in music from genres not normally visited in South Florida. Known for showcasing music from Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe, the Rhythm Foundation and Heineken delivered a knockout show at the oceanfront North Beach Band Shell on Sat., April 26, 2008. The vintage deco amphitheater was over-flowing with the type of jubilant and gyrating fan every promoter and band hopes to entertain.
Following an energetic welcome from Kulcha Shok’s Lance O, the stage was transformed into a gypsy circus when Babylon Circus, the virtually unknown-in-the-US, 10-piece Ska/Rock/Dancehall/Reggae/Jazz/Swing ensemble, took musical control. When the wicked Dancehall strains of “Get Outta Control” were unleashed, that’s exactly what the crowd decided to do. With blazing horns and rock hard bass and drums, the front of the stage filled with lively dancing newly-found fans. Continue reading →
April 23, 2008, Miami, FL –
One week following Mother B’s journey to Zion, hundreds in the South Florida community joined hands and hearts at a memorial service inside Miami’s beautiful Garden House at Fairchild Tropical Garden. The lush botanical garden is only minutes from Ms. B’s home, a large residence on a sprawling estate. In the late ‘70s, son Bob Marley bought the home in Pincecrest for her, and it is where Ms. B lived a life surrounded by her children, grand and great-grandchildren, and the home where, on April 8, she passed on in her sleep, surrounded by her loving family.
The Booker/Marley family, in paying tribute to their matriarch, also paid tribute to her devoted friends and fans when they presented an exquisite memorial service that honored the “smiling woman of song.” The setting was amazing and beautiful, from the gorgeous green of the garden and tropical trees to the touches of Africa and Rastafari that adorned and decorated the intimate Garden House. The presentation was fit for a queen, and in South Florida’s eyes and hearts, that is exactly who Cedella Marley Booker will always remain. Continue reading →
April 9, 2008 – It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Cedella Marley Booker, in the late evening hours of April 8, 2008, of natural causes. Bob Marley’s mother, affectionately known as Mother B, was 81 years old. The matriarch of the Marley clan was deeply loved by family, friends, and people around the world who never had the opportunity or blessing to meet her.
Mother B was a wise and strong woman, spiritually grounded in Rastafari. She was a talented singer who basked in the glory of seeing her talented children and grandchildren continue the legacy of her first-born son, Robert Nesta Marley. She filled our world with song, humor, and wisdom. May her spirit guide all those who love her, and those dedicated family members who stood by her, stood for her, and were at her side when she flew away, home to Zion. Joyously reunited with her sons Nesta and Anthony, Mother B’s laughter and wisdom will be sadly missed by those of us remaining in this world. Our condolences go to her son Richard Booker and wife, Sharien, and to daughter Claudette (Pearl) Livingston. Selah. Continue reading →