Tag Archives: Reggae

Artist Profiles: The Heptones

The Heptones

The Heptones are one of reggae’s legendary groups, led by the charismatic Leroy Sibbles along with Earl Morgan and Barry Llewellyn. They became huge hitmakers while at the top Jamaican label, Studio One. After recording numerous rock steady anthems, they were also one of the few groups to make a successful transition from rock steady to reggae.

Deep in the Roots, released in 2004 was recorded at Kingston’s famed Channel One Studio by top roots producer Niney the Observer, with backing by the Soul Syndicate band. Features previously-unreleased extended mixes, plus rare tracks.

Co-founder Barry Llewellyn died on November 23, 2011, in Kingston, Jamaica.

Discography:

The Heptones (Studio One, 1967)
On Top (Studio One, 1968)
Black is Black (Studio One, 1970)
Freedom Line (Studio One, 1971)
Book of Rules (Jaywax, 1973)
Cool Rasta (Trojan Records, 1976)
Night Food (Island Records, 1976)
Party Time (Island Records, 977)
Better Days (Third World, 1978)
Good Life ( Greensleeves Records, 1979)
King Of My Town (Jackal Records, 1979)
Mr. Skabeana (Cha Cha Music, 1980)
One Step Ahead (Sonic Sounds, 1981)
On The Run (Shanachie, 1982)
Back on Top (Vista Sounds, 1983)
In A Dancehall Style (Vista Sounds, 1983)
Swing Low (Burning Sounds, 1985)
Changing Times (Moving Target, 1986)
A Place Called Love (Moving Target, 1987)
Sing Good Vibes (1988)
Mr. “T” (1991)
Observer’s Style (1994)
Pressure! (Real Authentic Sound, 1995)
Rebel Love (2016)

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Final Set of live acts announced for Africa Oyé festival

Additional artists from Malawi, Jamaica and Haiti have been revealed in the final set of acts for the 27th annual Africa Oyé festival this summer: Gasper Nali, Jah9 and Wesli. The festival will take place in Liverpool’s Sefton Park on June 22-23. Africa Oyé celebrates the music and culture of Africa and the Diaspora.

Jah9

With a vocal style that has been likened to Ella Fitzgerald, and a contemporary freshness in the same style as Erykah Badu, Jah9 has become somewhat of an icon for the Jamaican movement known as ‘The Reggae Revival’. Her philosophy, spirituality and unique ‘jazz on dub’ style has traveled across Europe and beyond since her debut album New Name launched in 2013 to wide acclaim.

Wesli

Making a welcome return to the festival after his 2016 set was cut short due to travel difficulties, is the multi award-winning Haitian star, Wesli. His music aims to give a new mainstream life to rhythms and instruments that he says have been neglected as Haiti faces an increasing amount of global commercial music and culture.

Gasper Nali

Rounding off this final wave of artists is Malawian one-man-band Gasper Nali. Gasper is a Kwela roots musician from the small town of Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi. Playing a one-string, homemade, 3-metre-long Babatoni bass guitar with a stick and an empty beer bottle, together with a cow skin kick drum, he creates dance-inducing Afro Beats.

The final list of artists join a line-up that already includes The Garifuna Collective, Horace Andy, BCUC, Moonlight Benjamin, Sofiane Saidi & Mazalda, Carlou D and OSHUN, as well as Liverpool emerging stars Tabitha Jade and Satin Beige who make up the ‘Oyé Introduces’ program.

Africa Oyé’s Artistic Director said of the final set of artists: “These three artists really represent the diversity of the festival line-up that we strive for each year. We’ve got a breaking female reggae star, a one-man-band with instruments he’s crafted himself and an international award winning star returning to our stage; artists representing Africa, the Caribbean and the wider diaspora – it’s a perfect final wave of live acts for this year’s festival and I can’t wait for everyone to see them perform.”

As well as the international offering of live music on the main stage, festivalgoers will also be able to eat and drink their way around the world with a range of food vendors and traders’ wares on offer in the Oyé Village.

Entrance is FREE and a ticket is not needed.

For more information visit africaoye.com.

headline photo: Africa Oye festival – Photo by Matt Hart

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Artist Profiles: Jah9

Jah9

Janine Elizabeth Cunningham, better known as Jah9, was born in Montego Bay on May 23, 1983. She is a Jamaican singer with a captivating vocal style that has been likened to Ella Fitzgerald, and a contemporary freshness similar to Erykah Badu. Jah9 has become an icon for the Jamaican movement known as ‘The Reggae Revival’. Her philosophy, spirituality and unique ‘jazz on dub’ style has traveled across Europe and beyond since her debut album New Name launched in 2013 to wide acclaim.

A certified yoga instructor, Jah9 compels her audiences during her live sets to pause, breathe deeply and feel empowered. Her shows, which she describes as “dark magic”, promise to raise the audience’s awareness and call everyone in attendance to a spiritual awakening.

Jah9

Discography:

New Name (Rorystonelove, 2013)
9 (VP Records, 2016)
In The Midst Of The Storm, with Mad Professor (VP Records, 2017)
Feelings ‎(VP Records, 2018)

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Artist profiles: Taj Weekes

Taj Weekes

Taj Weekes is a singer-songwriter who tells tales of poverty, oppression hopelessness and rejection, counterweighing them each with a message of Rastafari faith and spirituality. On his debut CD Hope and Doubt Taj sings about life’s struggles.

Born the youngest of ten children, Taj Weekes grew up on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. He became aware of the disparity between the affluent tourists and the striving locals early on. Religion and music were the two main salvations for the Weekes family, St. Lucians of Ethiopian descent and the songs they learned at church often followed them home. “It was like a Caribbean Von Trapp family. Someone was always singing in some corner of the house or entertaining the rest of us,” explains Weekes. While church music played a big role in Taj’s life so did the sounds that emanated from his stereo: everything from The Mighty Sparrow to Paul Simon to Nat King Cole. Taj himself began singing by age five and started composing his own calypso music by the time he was eleven years old.

When his role model and older brother Desmond nicknamed MPLA discovered Rastafarianism Taj quickly had his own spiritual awakening. Yet by his late teens Taj found the island’s 238 square miles too stifling and grew weary of its rigid dichotomies. He headed for the vast opportunity-filled North American mainland to pursue a music career: first to Toronto and then to New York where he found a home.

Taj formed a band and named it Adowa in tribute to his Ethiopian grandfather and to an 1896 battle in which Ethiopian Emperor Menelik II thwarted off Italian invaders, a milestone in Rastafarian history. He has been cultivating a following in New York City ever since singing his stories at venues such as S.O.B.’s, Lion’s Den, the Apollo and Irving Plaza.

Taj Weekes – Photo by TryTing

In 2019, Weekes released 1.5 Is Still Alive featuring Kendel Hippolyte, Linda Chocolate Berthier, Zara McFarlane, Razia Said, Aaron Silk, Bushman, Kenyatta Hill, Jafe Paulino, Sidney Mills

Discography:

Hope & Doubt (AlphaPocket Records/Jatta Records, 2005)
Deidem (Jatta Records, 2008)
A Waterlogged Soul Kitchen (Jatta Records, 2010)
Pariah In Transit live (Jatta Records 2013)
Love Herb & Reggae (Jatta Records, 2016)
1.5 Is Still Alive (Jatta Records, 2019)

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Eljuri Releases a Set of her Reggae Songs

Eljuri – Resiste – La colección Reggae de Eljuri

Eljuri – Resiste – La colección Reggae de Eljuri (Manovill Records, 2019)

New York-based Ecuadorian singer and guitarist Cecilia Villar Eljuri, better known as Eljuri, has released a compilation of her crossover original reggae songs.

Eljuri’s Spanish-language lyrics include calls for political activism, an end to gun violence and love songs. Her style combines reggae and dub with catchy Latin pop and rock. Eljuri is also a quite good guitarist and occasionally treats the listener to skilled solos.

Standout tracks include the roots reggae songs “El Aire” and “Empuja,” recorded with Jamaican reggae icons Sly and Robbie.

“I feel compelled to testify honestly, powerfully and without fear,” says Eljuri. “I’ve learned from the masters of reggae how to speak my mind boldly, giving voice to the concerns of many. I am so inspired to live in a time where we are all confidently pressing for change together.

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KCRW’s World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl to Present Reggae Night XVIII

Damian Marley

The 2019 KCRW World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl will present Reggae Night XVIII on Sunday, July 7, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. The artists featured include Damian Marley, Third World and Kabaka Pyramid.

Four-time Grammy winner Damian Marley has established himself as a unique and influential presence in reggae, combining the roots sound of his father’s legendary music with the fast flow and spirit of dancehall.

Third World are no strangers to fusion, setting their blend of soul, R&B, rock, and disco to a reggae beat since 1973.

Socially conscious Kabaka Pyramid opens with a fiery, beat-based reggae sound built around messages of love, unity, and justice. Their discography includes Rebel Music (2011) and Kontraband (Ghetto Youths International, 2018) .

Tickets for the Hollywood Bowl 2019 summer season will be available online at HollywoodBowl.com or via phone at 323-850-2000.

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Africa Oyé Announces Headliners for 2019 festival

The Garifuna Collective from Belize and celebrated reggae artist Horace Andy will headline the 27th annual Africa Oyé festival this summer in the UK.

Africa Oyé will take place June 22 and 23, 2019 in Liverpool’s Sefton Park.  The festival celebrates the music and culture of Africa and the Diaspora with two free days of live music, DJ sets and multi-arts workshops.

Horace Andy

Jamaican singer-songwriter Horace Andy is well-known as the sweetest voice in reggae and for his long association with British trip-hop forerunners, Massive Attack. Andy has become an persevering voice on the Jamaican music scene. His early 1970s hit, ‘Skylarking’ expressed his ability to deliver songs of Black determination and social commentary that topped the Jamaican charts.

Horace Andy has steadily recorded and performed around the world in his own right with his band Dub Asante, and has remained famous in roots reggae, rocksteady, lovers rock and dancehall.

The Garifuna Collective

Also announced for the 2019 festival is The Garifuna Collective. The group has pushed the boundaries of Garifuna musical traditions. The group went back to the studio last year ro record its new album Hamala (Let Them Fly). It will The Garifuna Collective’s first record since the highly-praised tribute album to fallen bandleader and cultural icon Andy Palacio. The new album experiments with new Garifuna rhythms, recording concepts and even some “organic electronic” music and dub techniques.

The two festival headliners join a line-up that already includes BCUC, Moonlight Benjamin, Sofiane Saidi & Mazalda, Carlou D and OSHUN, as well as Liverpool emerging stars Tabitha Jade and Satin Beige who make up the ‘Oyé Introduces’ program.

Africa Oyé’s Artistic Director said: “It’ll be a real honor to welcome back The Garifuna Collective to headline Oyé in their own right after their amazing performance with the late, great Andy Palacio twelve years ago; their sound and energy is incredible. And Horace Andy is a reggae headliner we’ve always wanted to see on our stage and I just know he’ll close out the Saturday in perfect style.”

For more information on the festival visit africaoye.com.

headline photo Trenchtown by Mark McNulty

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Masterful Harmonies and Acoustic Reggae from The Green

The Green – Black & White

The Green – Black & White (Easy Star Records, 2019)

Successful Hawaii-based reggae band The Green has recreated some of its most iconic songs in an acoustic format. Their new album Black & White showcases a totally different version of the popular band, with acoustic guitars that add a blues and folk music element to their otherwise reggae sound. However, The Green still stands out with its rich vocal harmonies that are so popular with its fans.

Black & White features a different, yet captivating side of reggae, incorporating acoustic soul, pop and blues.  Guitarist and singer JP Kennedy explains: “We really liked the idea of taking a previously recorded song and stripping it down to a few key elements. Less is more.”

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Rocky Dawuni’s Reggae for Positive change

Rocky Dawuni – Beats of Zion (Six Degrees, 2019)

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.

Beats of Zion is an exceptionally expressive, upbeat album of heartfelt reggae intertwined with fascinating Pan-African music.

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Rocky Dawuni To Release Beats Of Zion in March 2019


Rocky Dawuni

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.

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