Tag Archives: Reggae

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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The 10th Annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival Releases Final Artist Lineup

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

Stick Figure
Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals
Atmosphere
Citizen Cope
Steel Pulse
The Green
Common Kings
Fiji
The Skints
Don Carlos
Ballyhoo
For Peace Band

Saturday, May 25

Slightly Stoopid and Friends
Dirty Heads
Tash Sultana
Pepper
Protoje
The Expendables
G Love and Special Sauce
The Movement
Iya Terra
Jo Mersa Marley
Ocean Alley
Roots Of Rebellion

Sunday, May 26

Rebelution
SOJA
UB40 feat Ali, Astro
Nahko
Cypress Hill (performing Black Sunday)
Collie Buddz
Matisyahu (Performing songs from Live at Stubbs)
Alborosie
Dread Mar I
Jesse Royal
Kabaka Pyramid
Xiuhtezcatl
The Elovators

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

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Artist Profiles: Lucky Dube

Lucky Dube

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).

Lucky Dube

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.

Discography:

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)

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Jamaican Reggae, Inscribed on Intangible Heritage of Humanity Representative List

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.

headline photo: Ky-Mani Marley in performance at the One Love Reggae concert celebrating legend and father Bob Marley – Photo by Steve James, © Semiyah Photography, 2016

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