On Beats of
Zion, African reggae star Rocky Dawuni continues to demonstrate he’s one of the
most exciting artists coming out of Africa. His style goes beyond traditional roots reggae
by incorporating other genres such as highlife, ear friendly Afropop, seductive
global beats and more.
Highlights include the title track featuring the traditional drums and percussion of Batimbo Percussion Magique of Burundi; the superb timelessly crafted reggae tracks “Champion Arise”, “Freedom Train”, and “Mr. Jones”; hip-shaking highlife song “Kyenkyen Bi Adi Mawu”; and the recreation of Osibisa classic “Sunshine Day” featuring Ghanaian Afropop singer Wiyaala.
Zion is an exceptionally
expressive, upbeat album
of heartfelt reggae intertwined with fascinating Pan-African music.
Rocky Dawuni, the international world music and reggae star,
global ambassador and humanitarian activist, has announced the release of his 7th
studio album Beats of Zion, out March 8th, 2019 through Six Degrees. The
thirteen-song recording follows the acclaimed Branches of the Same Tree, and
expands Rocky’s “Afro Roots” sound to include the diversity of the Ghanaian
music scene and its current global outreach.
“Beats of Zion was born out of my desire to use my diverse global musical influences and exposure to various traditions to paint a multi-cultural musical vision of the world that I perceive,” says Rocky. “The beginning of the year saw me visit Ethiopia and India. In Ethiopia, I visited Lalibela, witnessing ancient Christian rites and my journeys in India also exposed me to its diverse spiritual culture and the shared similarities I saw to Africa.” He adds, “The title Beats of Zion is inspired by a vision of the drumbeat of awareness and elevation of consciousness; a musical call to arms for my audience to be proactive in this day and age as to each person’s responsibility to be an active instrument for positive change.”
The album was recorded in various studios in Accra, Nairobi and Los Angeles. The title track and lead single “Beats of Zion” came out well from the Village Studios session in Los Angeles, but was missing something on the drum tracking. Rocky states, “We traveled to Zanzibar for a concert shortly after the recording session. At the time, I was still wanting the full African tribal effect that I had imagined. On the eve of my concert at the amazing Sauti za Busara Festival, we saw Batimbo Percussion Magique of Burundi mount the stage and blow the minds of everyone in the audience. I turned to my manager; Cary Sullivan who was also watching and we thought the same – ‘these are the guys for Beats of Zion’ and so the story unfolded.”
The lead single will also have an accompanying video due out
January 25th. “Wickedest Sound” is another song that speaks volumes, featuring
Ghanaian dancehall star Stonebwoy. The track combines elements of modern
Afrobeats with Reggae music. With production paying homage to the organic
recordings of classic Highlife music, it also combines a groove driven melodic
approach with the traditional call and response style of singing.
The 10th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival has announced the final round of artists for its milestone 2019 event. Cali Roots X will take place at the historic Monterey County Fair and Event Center from May 24-26, 2019. Adding to the already anounced lineup is Slightly Stoopid and Friends, Atmosphere, SOJA, Tash Sultana, Citizen Cope, Steel Pulse, The Movement, Jesse Royal, Ballyhoo!, Ocean Alley and For Peace Band.
Cali Roots has become a leading reggae and roots music festival in the U.S. “When programming our ten year lineup, I knew I had to deliver the best representation of what embodies the event and couldn’t be happier with the results,” says festival co-producer Dan Sheehan. He adds, “The music is just the beginning. We are working with our visual artists for fresh art installations and our greening team to bring even more environmental initiatives.”
The 2019 festival will also feature a diverse lineup of the best food Monterey has to offer. Between sets, attendees can take in and enjoy pop up performances, DJ sets, and unique art installations.
Friday, May 24
Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals
For Peace Band
Saturday, May 25
Slightly Stoopid and Friends
G Love and Special Sauce
Jo Mersa Marley
Roots Of Rebellion
Sunday, May 26
UB40 feat Ali, Astro
Cypress Hill (performing Black Sunday)
Matisyahu (Performing songs from Live at Stubbs)
Dread Mar I
The 10th Annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival Dates: Friday, May 24, 2019 – Sunday May 26, 2019 Monterey County Fair and Event Center Address: 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey, CA 93940 More at californiarootsfestival.com
While successful reggae artists have traditionally hailed from the Island of Jamaica, over the decades of the 1980s and 1990s South African native Lucky Dube (pronounced doobay) delivered some of the most conscious and substantive roots reggae songs to hit the airwaves.
Dube became the best-selling artist in all of Africa during the 1980s and ’90s, and gained popularity in North America, the Caribbean and Europe.
His mother named him Lucky because he was born in poor health, but he survived. Although he began as an mbaqanga (traditional Zulu) music singer, Lucky Dube’s career boomed in 1987 when his third album, Slave, was released and let off massive hit singles: “Slave,” “I’ve Got You Babe,” and “Back to My Roots,” which led to a record breaking sold out performance in Johannesburg of over 50,000 people.
His 1989 album Prisoner sold over 100, 000 copies worldwide. His platinum double live album Captured Live outsold any international music. Since then Lucky and his band, Slave, performed all over the world. He was the first South African to perform at Jamaica’s Reggae Sunsplash (1991) and was called for a 25-minute encore! To date, Trinity (1995), with hit songs such as “Feel Irie,” “Trinity,” “Serious Reggae Business,” and “Puppet Master,” is one of his most requested albums and was released on Motown’s Tabu Records expanding Lucky Dube’s United States audience. He was the winner of the OKTV Award (South Africa) for Best Male Vocalist of the Year.
In 1996 Shanachie Records released Serious Reggae, featuring songs “Mr. DJ,” and an emotional cover of Foreigner’s “I Wanna Know What Love Is,” “Prisoner,” and “Slave” to name a few. Also Shanachie Records released Taxman in 1997. His latest albums Think About The Children/Rastas Never Die (2000) and Soul Taker (2001) were released on Gallo Records (South Africa). Lucky Dube released 21 albums. His last one was Respect (2006).
When asked what inspired him, Lucky humbly noted ? ?People! Looking at people, watching people?s movements, the things they do. My songs are all based on real life situations and experiences?.
Lucky Dube was killed by gunshot in front of his son and daughter, in Johannesburg, South Africa On October 18, 2007. According to a police report, the award-winning reggae star was murdered when he was attacked by a group of carjackers.
Lengane Ngeyethu (Teal Record Company, 1981) Kukuwe (Teal Record Company,1984) Ngikwethembe Na? (Gallo Record Company, 1985) Think About The Children Mercury, 1986) Umadakeni (Celluloid Records, 1987) Slave (Shanachie Records, 1987) Together As One (Celluloid Records, 1988) Prisoner (Celluloid Records, 1989) Captured Live (Shanachie Records, 1990) House Of Exile (Shanachie Records, 1991) Victims (Celluloid Records, 1993) Trinity (Tabu Records, 1995) Taxman (Shanachie Records, 1997) The Way It Is (Shanachie Records, 1999) Soul Taker (Shanachie Records, 2001) The Other Side (Heartbeat, 2003) Respect (Gallo Record Company, 2006) Kudala Ngikuncenga (Gallo Record Company, 2006) Abathakathi (Gallo Record Company, 2006) Live In Uganda (Gallo Record Company, 2007)
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meeting in Mauritius until 1 December, inscribed reggae on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The Representative List seeks to enhance visibility for the traditions and know-how of communities without recognizing standards of excellence or exclusivity.
Originating within the cultural space of marginalized groups, mainly in Western Kingston, the Reggae Music of Jamaica combines musical influences from earlier Jamaican forms as well as Caribbean, North American and Latin strains. Its basic functions as a vehicle of social commentary, as a cathartic experience, and means of praising God remain unchanged, and the music continues to provide a voice for all.
Students are taught how to play it from an early age, and festivals and concerts are central to ensuring its viability.
African reggae star Majek Fashek has been called a prophet and a poet, and is recognized as one of Nigeria’s greatest singers and musicians. His powerful world beat sound incorporates his core influences (Bob Marley, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Jimi Hendrix), seamlessly meshing roots, rock, reggae and Afrobeat into a unique signature sound called kpangolo. Majek describes it as “the sound of many cultures coming together.”
Majek Fashek has always sung from the soul about the political and social struggles he has faced in his long and winding road from Nigeria to the U.S. He first attracted international attention in 1987 when his song, “Send Down The Rain” seemed to coax a rainstorm that ended one of the worst droughts in Nigeria’ s history. Performing at an outdoor theater, he saw the thirsty crowd yearning for just a few drops of water. No one could imagine the possibility of a downpour, but as Majek sang the lyric “the sky looks misty and cloudy; it looks like the rain’s gonna fall today,” clouds gathered in the sky, thunder cracked and rain soaked the barren ground. Since that momentous occasion, Fashek has become one of Africa’s most revered contemporary musical performers, rivaling Afro-reggae compatriots Alpha Blondy and Lucky Dube in recognition and popularity around the world.
While he developed an early interest in Jamaican riddims, Fashek was equally drawn to the music of Indian cinema. Learning to play guitar while in secondary school, Fashek joined a band called Jah Stix and, after graduating from the New Era College’s Arts Program, he began playing in Lagos nightclubs, universities and even prisons. Fashek enjoyed a close relationship with the legendary late Nigerian musician and bandleader Fela Kuti, (he includes a Fela composition “Water No Get Enemy” on his new release Little Patience). “He’s like my big brother,” Majek has said and like Fela, he not only delivers hard-hitting rhythms, but also a forceful criticism of social and political issues.
Moana Maniapoto has consistently pushed the boundaries of Maori music with her unique mix of traditional Maori musical elements and contemporary western grooves. Her band Moana and the Tribe tour throughout the world and are one of the most successful indigenous bands to emerge from New Zealand.
Moana is supported by a collective of talented performers including two acoustic guitarists, female vocalists, a troop of male ‘warriors’ (including some of the best haka performers in New Zealand) and a team of film-makers. The Tribe’ includes Ihu Waka (Reweti Te Mete, Paora Sharpies and Scottie Morrison), as well as guitarist Cadzow Cossar and bass player Pete Hoera. Taonga puoro player Rangi Rangitukunoa is also a rapper and breakdancer. Vocalists Aminra Renti and Trina Maniapoto support Moana in song.
Moana & the Tribe fuse Maori instruments, chants and beats with pacific rhythms, then combine it up with soul, reggae and funk to produce a multi-genre cross-pollination of traditional and contemporary culture. Taonga puoro (traditional Maori instruments) had almost disappeared from Maori culture. Over forty have now been identified and some have been recorded for the very first time, courtesy of Moana and her musicians. These instruments, traditional chants and the haka (a war-like dance) are incorporated into Moana’s music, providing a spectacular accompaniment to modern beats. Tauparapara (traditional chanting) replaces rap.
Moana & the Tribe sing about land and people and present their songs in Maori as well as in English. They speak of a connection to Papatuanuku (Mother Earth), of justice, the importance of language and traditions. They talk about the traditional “moko” (tattooing of face and body), about the Maoris’ struggle for land but also about spirituality, prophecies and traditional bonds and touch on a variety of political and social issues, that are universal. Moana’s albums and her live performances are expressions of rare beauty and a stunning combination of traditional and contemporary culture.
Moana’s lyrics reflect the Maori spiritual, cultural and political reality. She is a singer and songwriter, but also draws inspiration from her rich life as a documentary-maker, writer and political activist. Despite being inspired from her own culture, Moana’s songs strike a chord with every audience. Her message is universal: Mana Maori – Pride in being Maori, Mana Wahine – Respect for women, and Mana Tangata – Respect for all humanity.
She is a lawyer, musician, songwriter and has worked as a TV host. Moana was admitted to the Bar in 1984 and has worked to empower Maori and community groups with information about the legal system and processes.
In June 2003 Moana & the Tribe returned, to promote the European release of their DVD Live & Proud, which was launched in Berlin. The group completed a series of 36 concerts over seven weeks throughout Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Germany culminating with four performances at the Olympic Festival of Sacred Song and Dance – the Cultural Olympiad in Greece. Moana & the Tribe represented New Zealand performing in Patras, Kalamata, Athens and on the ancient site of Olympia. The group participated alongside representatives from 28 nations including Paco Pe?a (Spain) and the Shaolin Monks (China).
Moana & the Tribe sang also at the media launch of New Zealand feature film The Whale Rider in Cologne and promoted the movie at their concerts. Once again in 2003 the band staked their biggest claim in Germany and gained a whole new league of fans: “People that come to our [ concerts tell us that they relate to the feeling – even if they can’t understand English or Maori,? says Moana. ?Some come to four or five shows during our tour and we move across some big distances pretty quickly so that kinda blows us away.”
In February of 2004 she won the 2003 International Songwriting Competition (ISC) for her world music song “Moko.” The winning song “Moko,” is a compelling fusion of smooth world music and an urban sound with earthy, international beats.”
Singer-songwriter Hollie Smith is a leading vocalist in the New Zealand music scene. She has collaborated with Trinity Roots, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Don McGlashan, One Million Dollars, Anika Moa and Boh Runga.
Hollie Smith has a deep, rich and soulful singing style. Hollie’s wide range of musical influences combine elements of soul, jazz, reggae, Celtic and R&B.
Ansel Cridland, Danny Clarke and Winston Watson collectively known as The Meditations, recorded their first hit single “Woman is Like a Shadow” in 1974 at Channel One Recording Studio; followed by “Tricked”, “Babylon Trap Them”, “Woman Plabba” and “Running from Jamaica” which were included on their first album Message from the Meditations produced by Dobby Dobson.
Among other album were Wake Up, Guidance, No More Friend, For The Good of Man, The Return of The Meditations and Ghetto Knowledge. The group’s vocal and harmony style captured the hearts of reggae fans around the world and led to the collaboration of work with Lee “Scratch” Perry. Scratch, who produced for Bob Marley and the Wailers, asked them to do back up vocals for “Punky Reggae Party”, featuring Bob on lead vocals.
Bob Marley was so pleased with their harmony that he went in search for the group to do more back up vocals for him. He found Danny Clarke, one of the group’s member, and put him in a taxicab and said, “Me nuh wan you (don’t) come back ‘til you find the other two member”. The taxi driver drove Danny to all the studios in Kingston and could not find the other members, until they drove to “Idlers Rest”, a street where all musicians and singers mostly hang out.
When Danny saw Ansel and gave him the news that Bob Marley wanted the group to do back up vocals for him, Ansel thought it was a joke. Still, he and Winston joined Danny in the taxi, which took them to the studio where they added their vocals to “Rastaman Live Up” and “Blackman Redemption”.
The Meditations did back up vocals on songs for other artists like, Jimmy Cliff’s hit “Bongoman”, “Youths” Them A Cry”; Gregory Isaacs’ “Mr. Cop” and several songs with Junior Marvin and other reggae artists.
Message From The Meditations (Wild Flower, 1977)
Wake Up (Double-D, 1978)
Guidance (Tad’s/Guidance, 1979) No More Friend (Greensleeves, 1983)
For The Good of Man (Greensleeves, 1988)
Return of The Meditations (Sonic Sounds/Heartbeat, 1993)
Ghetto Knowledge (Easy Star, 1999) I Love Jah (Wackies, 2002) Stand In Love (2Good , 2004)
Jah Always Find a Way (2015)
Bridging the gap between Ska and Reggae, the soulful Rocksteady style dominated the Jamaican music scene for more than a decade. Formed in 1965 by Tony Brevett, Brent Dow and Trevor McNaughton, The Melodians was one of the premiere Rocksteady groups recording with legendary producers Clement “Coxsone Dodd, Arthur “Duke” Reid, and Leslie Kong with later releases on the Channel One and Studio One labels. Their hit “Rivers of Babylon” went on to become one of Jamaica’s most beloved songs.
The Melodians have continued to record quality reggae and rocksteady and tour internationally. On January 28, 2006, Brent Dow died of a heart attack at the age of 59. The Melodians are busy completing an album that they were in the process of recording at the time of his death and have been touring extensively in honor of Brent.