Sunday, May 05, 2019

Watch Reggae Legend Ken Boothe’s Rare U.S. Appearance for New Doc ‘Inna de Yard’

Honey-voiced “Everything I Own” singer makes it stateside for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of reggae documentary





Few voices in music are as soulful and honeyed as Ken Boothe, the reggae legend whose God-level fame in his home country is showcased in the new documentary Inna de Yard. The film, which premiered earlier this week at the Tribeca Film Festival, highlights both the past and present of reggae veterans like Boothe, Winston McAnuff, Kiddus I, Cedric Myton of the Congos and Bob Marley and the Wailers’ vocalist Judy Mowatt as they record acoustic versions of some of their most celebrated songs for a new album.

Ostensibly a film about the album, director Peter Webber’s doc doubles as a thorough and candid history of the genre and its pioneers, as they reminisce about the fortunes (and misfortunes) of being a reggae musician in the 1970s. “Some countries have diamonds. Some countries have oil,” reggae bassist Worm says in the film. “We have reggae music.” Webber infuses the film with detours into the sometime-violent history of the country and how it’s affected the featured musicians, though the true highlights are seeing stars like the religion-minded falsetto of Myton and smooth soul of Boothe, both in their early 70s, still transfix and mystify an audience.

Following the film’s premiere earlier this week in New York, Boothe appeared alongside his band for an hour-long, career-spanning set of some of his biggest hits, including “Artibella,” “Crying Over You,” “Silver Words,” “When I Fall in Love” and his signature cover of Bread’s 1972 hit “Everything I Own.” His career hopped from ska to rocksteady to reggae, though tonight’s set was heavy for his best-known songs of romance and yearning.




Age has barely slowed down the Jamaican crooner, as the nattily clad singer danced around the stage, doing 360s and displaying a master command of the crowd honed by more than 50 years of live performances. Every between-song ad-lib was smooth personified, as Boothe punctuated each comment with a suave, confident “Don’t you agree?” The answer, when Ken Boothe asks you, is always yes.


Courtesy Jason Newman for Rolling Stone

Friday, May 03, 2019

Zak Starkey & Sshh Liguz on Starting New Reggae Label Trojan Jamaica

Zak Starkey
Zak Starkey has made his mark drumming for British rock mainstays Oasis, the Who and Johnny Marr, but in 2019, he's focused on reggae, rocksteady and the sounds of Jamaica. He and his partner Sharna "Sshh" Liguz have launched Trojan Jamaica, a new BMG-funded and -distributed record label focusing on Jamaican music.

The son of avowed reggae fan Ringo Starr, Starkey grew up listening to Toots & the Maytals, Bob Marley and Burning Spear. "I was first exposed to Funky Kingston, and then to Bob Marley's Live!, and then Man in the Hills, when I was 12 or 13," he tells Billboard. "I was also listening to the Clash and the Pistols because they were both delivering reggae to my door."

The flashpoint for the label came in 2016, when Starkey and Liguz's band SSHH premiered a video for their cover of Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," featuring Eddie Vedder. According to a press release, the cover came to the attention of Kingsley Cooper, curator of the Peter Tosh Museum in Kingston, Jamaica. He was so impressed that he invited SSHH to perform "Get Up, Stand Up" at the museum's opening ceremony alongside members of Tosh's backing band.

Today, Starkey and Liguz are keeping their reggae fires burning -- with a twist. Trojan Jamaica's first release, titled Red, Gold, Green and Blue and due out summer 2019, features classic blues lyrics set to fresh Jamaican music. "I didn't want to copy the music," Starkey says. "I just wanted to take the words."


Trojan Jamaica was announced to the world with "I Put a Spell On You," a reggae-fied version of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic by Jamaican singer Mykal Rose. "Zak told me that he wanted me to cover the song," he says. "I'd heard Nina [Simone] sing that song before, but I hadn't heard anybody else." Haunting and mellow, its stylistic and regional blend speaks to Trojan Jamaica's ethos.

Liguz, for her part, aims to curate a borderless, genre-agnostic experience: America and the West Indies in the same stew. "We don't want to try and put it in any specific box," she says. "And it ticks all the boxes in any language.

"It’s a subculture that’s always been there. It’s just time to turn up the volume," she says. "The world seems to be waking up again to the groove of Jamaica on an international scale. The time has come to bring this further to the forefront."

BMG, who Liguz established a prior distribution deal with via SSHH, was only happy to help bring her and Starkey's vision to the light. "We are delighted to partner with Zak and Sharna," said BMG's CEO Hartwig Masuch in a press release. "This is a wonderful opportunity to reflect the new sounds of reggae's homeland."

For now, Trojan Jamaica's focus is on established artists like Big Youth, Toots & The Maytals, Sly & Robbie and Mykal Rose; it plans to leverage this clout to give a home to Jamaican upstarts. "We've got to get a foothold, otherwise we've got records that no one will have heard of," Starkey says. "I would hate to sign an act and hinder them, or not help move them forward."

Rose agrees that it's a step-by-step process. "We're just testing the waters right now to see if it will boil like a volcano," he says. "I think it can help a lot of young talents coming out of Jamaica. We just have to put our shoulders to it and make it happen."

Liguz, too, believes their young label will bring unheard voices to new ears. "You can't really go a day without hearing reggae somewhere," she says, calling from Jamaica. "It's a culture that we don't often think of, but it's there. I just want to bring it to the forefront."

Courtesy of Billboard

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

VP RECORDS LAUNCHES THE REGGAE TRAIL

Poster of the first phase of The Reggae Trail

NEW YORK, NY – VP Records, the world's largest reggae label, continues the yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary announcing today the launch of the first phase of The Reggae Trail, an interactive map of locations in New York City that helped make the music genre an integral part of life in the city over the past five decades.


“The first phase of the project, launches in conjunction with Record Store Day 2019, includes New York area reggae and Caribbean record stores with significant in-house record labels,” said Carter Van Pelt, VP Records’ Director of Catalog Development. “These include several dozen initial locations, chosen from literally hundreds.”

The Trail will grow to include recording studios, performance spaces, and also identify individuals who nurtured the growth of reggae, a globally influential genre from Jamaica recognized recently by UNESCO as a cultural heritage asset. Virtual visitors to the website will see how the growth of reggae mirrored the migration patterns of Jamaican and other Caribbean immigrant communities in the city. On April 13, Record Store Day attendees at the VP Records location in Queens, NY, will receive a printed version, free with purchase. 

“The idea began ten years ago when I pinned a set of locations in Google Maps of the New York area addresses I found on vinyl records,” said Van Pelt. “I didn’t initially take it beyond several dozen locations, but I could see the potential. Richard Lue, VP Records’ Director of Business Development, had a similar concept that showcased the role of VP Records in the history of reggae in New York. The Reggae Trail is a combination of these ideas.”

The Trail’s first phase highlights top record stores that brought the music to the people starting in the early 1960s. One of these is VP Records, which moved from Kingston, Jamaica, to Brooklyn and eventually Jamaica Queens in the late 1970s, becoming a major distributor and label in the global spread of reggae. After 40 years, VP Records’ flagship retail space is one of the oldest continuously operated records stores in the Northeast. Other locations of note on the Reggae Trail include Brooklyn’s former Super Power Records, Jah Life, and Coxson’s Music City; Wackie’s House Of Music in the Bronx, and Brooklyn’s 50-year old African Record Centre (the oldest of the group still in operation). Users can click on shop names and obtain a brief history, which includes everything from when it opened to classic productions that emanated from there. Users are strongly encouraged to tag @vprecords and use the hashtag #reggaetrail in social media posts to suggest additional locations or to offer images of their own.

“This project is very exciting and rich in its potential,” said Richard Lue, VP Records’ Director Of Business Development. “The Reggae Trail will continue to grow and the plan is to fill out as much detail about the history of reggae in New York as possible, giving users an opportunity to visit these past and present locations and understand how Caribbean immigration influenced the culture of the city over the past 50 years.”

To experience The Reggae Trail, go to www.thereggaetrail.com. For more information on VP Records, visit www.vprecords.com.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN’S ALBUM "AND THEN " TO BE RELEASED MAY 3RD ON VP RECORDS!

The Album features the singles "Life",
"Come Back", "Can't Dweet Again" and More

Following the release of his single “Life”, VP Records is proud to announce that Christopher Martin’s album And Then will be released May 3rd. In his sophomore offering, Christopher Martin presents a well-rounded mix of ballads and up-tempo jams, showcasing his musical versatility and growth with a celebration centered around themes of love, rising above hardship and finding the good in every situation. And Then is the follow up to Martin’s debut full length-album, “Big Deal”, which reached the top 5 on the Reggae Billboard Charts in 2017.

Singles off the album include “Bun Fi Bun,”, “Can’t Dweet Again,” “Come Back” and most recently “Life.” The album also features a standout cover of Mr. Big’s 1991 definitive track, “To Be With You.” Martin’s re-imagining of the love song is a sweet homage, delivering new meaning to the chart-topping single without losing sight of his powerful ability to connect with audiences across the globe and showcase his versatility as an artist not confined to one solitary genre.

With the launch of his second album, Chris was determined to give back and help raise the goals and expectations of youthful fans at home and abroad. In doing so, he teamed with the The Kulture Movement on the #NoDisrespect Campaign, which aims to educate the youth on behaviors that garner respect without resorting to violence. Shani Kulture of Hot 97.1 spearheaded the campaign with his partner Roxie Digital of Hot 103.9 FM and tapped Martin for the “School Tour,” in which workshops and activities with the kids are done to spread the message of positivity and self-worth. In addition to the campaign, Martin expanded his philanthropic efforts by supporting the American Foundation for The University of the West Indies (AFUWI)’s mission of raising funds and providing scholarships for needy students at UWI’s 4 campuses in 17 countries, by performing at their 2019 Legacy Awards gala held in February.

Born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, the now 32-year-old first established himself as an emerging talent following winning Jamaica’s top televised talent show “Digicel Rising Stars” in 2005. Shortly after, Martin went on to navigate his undeniably destined career in music with an eagerness and dedication to establishing his own forward-thinking sound. As exemplified through his energetic live performances and feel-good lyricism, his characteristic positivity is as genuine as it is memorable, allowing him to organically make a name for himself on the beloved island and connect with audiences that stretch far beyond his backyard in the Caribbean.

And Then is a body of work I am very proud of and it comes at a time where I am embarking into a new chapter,” Martin states. “I have a newly born son and new music at the same time and that is a very special thing.”


Friday, April 05, 2019

It’s Official! Jimmy Cliff Now Has His Own Street In Jamaica “Jimmy Cliff Blvd.”



On Thursday, March 28th, Gloucester Avenue, Montego Bay’s famous Hip Strip, was renamed Jimmy Cliff Boulevard. The Hip Strip is internationally known for showcasing various talents in music and arts, and is a major tourist draw in the area.

A very humbled Jimmy Cliff took to the stage last evening at the naming ceremony, and instead of giving a traditional speech, sang snippets of some of his biggest songs in acapella style.

By Maria Jackson Magazine