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Bob Marley Bash @ Trade Fair On May 14

TOP Ghanaian reggae music icons are billed to perform live in Ghana at the 30th anniversary of the late reggae music legend, Bob Marley, on May 14 at the Trade Fair Centre in Accra. The venue is expected to be filled with tons of music lovers who would witness the best of the reggae artistes billed to perform on the day.

Bob Marley’s birthday anniversary bash, which is being organised by Bosco Showbiz to honour the reggae legend, will feature a number of seasoned reggae music icons as well as X-105 Soundz and Mpese Mpese Band.

The reggae music icons’ live musical performances will surely keep the audience spellbound and they are expected to rock the stage with some select foreign reggae super stars who will set the venue on fire.


It's Time says Bunny Rugs

TIMING is everything, and no one knows that better than lead singer for the longstanding Third World band, William 'Bunny Rugs' Clarke.

Bunny Rugs, regarded by many as having one of the best voices in reggae music, feels the time is right for him to release his solo album, aptly titled Time.

"The title is of major significance. It was deliberately chosen to reflect my belief that 'if you don't have respect for time, you don't have respect for yourself'," he tod the Sunday Observer.

Some might question his sense of timing though, as Third World's album, Patriot, released digitally, is currently one of the 'movers and shakers' on the iTunes Reggae chart.


What Really Killed Bob Marley?

bobBob Marley the charismatic beloved Jamaican singer, who introduced reggae infused with Rastafarian themes died from a cancerous brain Tumor on May 11, 1981 in Miami. Florida. He was only 36 years old.

It’s been 30 years since his death; and there have many rumors and speculation about the cause of death. Did he really die from a brain tumor? Or other nefarious causes? Like the CIA? Poison in his boots etc?

Bob Marley’s medical records were never made public. However from several sources I managed to piece together the story of his illness and death from Metastatic Skin Cancer (Melanoma). This account I hope is fair, balanced and enlightening.


Hundreds Protest Reggae Singer's Death

smiley-cultureProtesters marching in London Saturday called for an investigation into the death of one-time reggae star Smiley Culture during a police raid on his home.

About 600 people joined the march to New Scotland Yard, Channel 4 News reported. Police described the demonstration, which featured reggae music and chants of "No Justice, No Peace" as "noisy but peaceful."

Smiley Culture was the stage name of David Victor Emmanuel, 48, who was born in London in 1963 to a couple who had immigrated from the Caribbean. He became a hit in the 1980s as a disc jockey and recording artist, although his celebrity did not outlast the decade.


Jah Cure on Trial For Drug Possession

jahcureInternational reggae artiste, Jah Cure, went on trial on Wednesday on drug possession charges.

The singer, whose real name is Siccaturie Alcock, was charged last April by the Constant Spring Police after ganja was reportedly found in his motor vehicle.

The cops say they found a small quantity of ganja in the singer's BMW motor car during a spot check along Dunrobin Avenue in St Andrew.

The singer was reportedly seen overtaking 11 vehicles in a line of traffic, when he was stopped by the police.


Tanya Stephens To Lecture At The University of The West Indies

tanya_stephensThe Mona campus of the University of the West Indies brings down the curtain on International Women's Month with a big bang. On Thursday, March 31, the 'infallible' Tanya Stephens will give a public lecture in the Assembly Hall on the topic, 'Music, the Power to Shape Societies', hosted by the Department of Literatures in English.

Ms Stephens is one of the songwriters whose lyrics are studied in the department's innovative course, 'Reggae Poetry'. The other prescribed poets this year are Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Steel Pulse and Buju Banton.

And, yes, veteran journalist Ian Boyne, I still believe in the innocence of Buju. My heart is much too heavy for glib opinions on the catastrophic circumstances in which the Gargamel now finds himself. Many commentators, and even some musicians, are gloating. Time longer than rope.

If the worst comes to the worst and Buju is forced to spend a long, long time in prison, he will have to take comfort in the experience of other great men who learned to turn adversity into opportunity, as in the famous case of Marcus Garvey.

The African Studies Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, houses an important project with global reach focusing on the papers of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). The project director is Professor Robert Hill, a Jamaican academic who has devoted much of his distinguished career to preserving Garvey's intellectual legacy.

The centre's website notes: "Garvey met the challenge of imprisonment by applying a significant part of his time to writing. 'African Fundamentalism', perhaps his most famous essay, was published as a Negro World editorial in June 1925 and quickly made its way on to the walls of UNIA members as a manifesto of the philosophy of the Garvey movement.

"Garvey also turned his hand to writing verse, producing and publishing 'The White Man's Game - His Vanity Fair', a lengthy polemic that he later republished under the title 'The Tragedy of White Injustice'."

It is, indeed, tragic that 'white injustice' enables unprincipled individuals to make a 'good' living in America as informers and entrappers.

'Room to exercise our minds'

Tanya Stephens' lecture will challenge stereotypes of dancehall as a "betrayal of reggae; the tragic case of the child doing violence to his mother", to quote Boyne in full melodramatic mode. Tanya is a dancehall DJ who knows that verbal creativity is not limited to reggae.

In Way Back, she reflects on her own best practice as a dancehall DJ, critiquing substandard composers who substitute un/dress for verbal skill:

I wanna take you way back
To when a girl on a mic's worth
Wasn't determined by the length of her skirt
I mean way back to creativity before MTV, before BET
Tanya celebrates lyrical prowess:
Let us journey past this melody
Give us room to exercise our minds
Take me to another place, another time,
Better hooks, better rhymes
Stronger lyrics every line,
You could even press rewind
Come with me,
Let us journey past this fallacy.

We have come to expect phalluses, not fallacies, in dancehall lyrics. But this is precisely the dominant fallacy: that dancehall culture is all body and no mind.

"Language is the dress of thought" is a famous witticism of the Roman orator Quintillian that was translated into English by the poet Dr Samuel Johnson. Some DJs are, indeed, completely naked, lyrically speaking. Tanya's thoughts, by contrast, are very well dressed.

In the song Who is Tanya?, the DJ describes herself as the "gyal weh come fi change di whole game wid a pen". Elaborating the image of writing, she adds, "Well, although di mic a mi favourite utensil/Still numba 1 wid a numba 2 pencil." The humorous interplay of 1 and 2 and 'utensil' and 'pencil' is characteristic of Tanya's witty style. The word 'utensil' also suggests the DJ's escape from the trap of domesticity through the power of the pen and the mic.

Women in Reggae

Stephens' lecture marks the revival of the brilliant public forums on 'Women in Reggae' that used to be hosted by the Reggae Studies Unit at UWI to mark International Women's Month. The first forum, held almost a decade ago in March 2002, was organised by Ibo Cooper, who was then a research fellow in the unit.

Judy Mowatt, Cherry Natural, Lady G, Lady Saw, Angie Angel, Queen Ifrica and attorney Sandra Alcott spoke with passion about their experiences in the reggae music industry.

Tanya Batson, writing for The Gleaner, reported that "one of the major problems appears to be the 'commodification' of women in the industry. Ms Alcott noted that many women were often pressured to engage in sexual relations with producers in order to make record deals".

Ms Batson also reported: "[T]he other major problem faced is beauty standards. Ms Alcott stated that many record producers will not sign female artistes who are above the age of 21 years. This is in keeping with the idea that the female artiste should be 'sexy', 'good-looking', and 'young'.

"This is not true of male artistes, who can tie their looks to a part of their act, whether it be a 'big belly', or any other feature deemed ugly. Furthermore, she also noted that ideas of female beauty are not in favour of the black woman. 'Our standards of beauty have for too long been based on Western ideals woven from fantasy,' Ms Alcott said."

Pam Hall, Sabrina Williams, Jana Bent, Shirley McLean, Italee, Crissy D, Ce'Cile, Nadine Sutherland and attorney Diane Jobson have all been speakers at the UWI Women in Reggae forums. Stephens' lecture promises to be an eloquent celebration of the creativity of Jamaican women.

SOURCE: The Gleaner


Reggae Star Buju Banton Found Guilty

bujuGrammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal in 2009, a verdict that elicited anguish and disbelief among supporters in a crowded courtroom and from other artists in his native Jamaica.

A federal jury deliberated for 11 hours over two days on the fate of Banton, who won a Grammy last week for best reggae album for his work entitled "Before the Dawn." He was found guilty of three of four charges, and his attorney said he's facing at least 15 years in prison.

The 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and the trial -- his second over the drug accusations -- was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked.
The tall, dreadlocked singer didn't react when a clerk read the verdict on Tuesday. He stood, hugged his attorneys, then turned around and blew kisses to his supporters in the courtroom and told them: "Thank you." A woman yelled out "We love you, Buju!" as U.S. marshals led him away.
"Obviously we are all upset and disappointed and emotional," said Banton's attorney, David Markus of Miami. "The only person who seems to be OK is Buju. He told us he was happy that he fought, knowing he was innocent."

Markus said he plans to appeal the conviction and will file a motion to try to get Banton out of jail on bond in the meantime.
Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. He was acquitted of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.

No date has been set for his sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney James Preston argued during trial that Banton portrayed himself as a broker of drug deals in several conversations with a confidential informant. Preston said Banton thought he was getting involved in a "no-risk" deal in which he would introduce a friend to a confidential informant, and then later collect money from drug transactions.

Prosecutors acknowledge that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal, nor did he ever profit from it. Markus said his client is "a big talker" who admitted to trying to impress the confidential informant but wasn't involved in any drug deal.

Much of the case hinged on meetings and phone calls that were video- and audiotaped by the informant, who was working with the Drug Enforcement Administration -- and who made $50,000 in commission after the bust.

In one video, Banton could be seen tasting cocaine in a Sarasota warehouse on Dec. 8, 2009 -- but he was not present during the actual drug deal on Dec. 10 that led two others to be arrested. Those two men later pleaded guilty.

Banton testified that that the informant badgered him after they met on a trans-Atlantic flight in July 2009 and insisted that they meet to set up a cocaine purchase. He said he was so uninterested in the informant's proposals that after they met twice, Banton didn't return the man's phone calls for months.

In Banton's native Jamaica, radio stations played his songs nonstop Tuesday, especially "Untold Stories" and "Not an Easy Road."
Rapper Tony Rebel, a close friend who recorded with Banton, called it a sad day for young people who looked up to him.
The verdict marks "the saddest day for reggae and dancehall," rapper Michael "Power Man" Davy said, adding he was "sad as a Rastaman and a Jamaican."

Singer Junior Reid called it a conspiracy against reggae artists.

"With Buju gone, a big piece of reggae get chop off," he said.

SOURCE: Foxnews


Days Before Retrial Judge Rejects Buju's Claims

bujuDays before he faces retrial in a United States court, dancehall star Buju Banton has been dealt a severe blow.

United States District Judge James Moody Jr has dismissed a motion filed by lawyers representing Buju, whose real name is Mark Myrie, seeking to throw out a superseding indictment filed by prosecutors.

This means that when Buju faces the court again, starting February 14, he will be answering five charges instead of the two that he faced in his first trial.

Efforts to contact Buju's lawyer, David Markus, were unsuccessful yesterday, but legal officials in the US agreed that while Buju could still beat the charges, he now has a more difficult mountain to climb.

When he was first arrested in December 2009, Buju was charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five kilograms or more of cocaine, and aiding and abetting his two co-defendants in knowingly and intentionally possessing a firearm during the course of a drug offence.

The jury was unable to agree ona verdict and the case ended in a mistrial.

Last November, US prosecutors obtained a superseding indictment against Buju which added two additional counts and modified the gun charge.

Lawyers representing Buju rushed to court seeking a dismissal of the superseding indictment, alleging vindictiveness on the part of the prosecutors because of the mistrial and the defence's attempts to get the charges dismissed.

"The court should presume that the new charges and modification were added by the government in retaliation for (the defendant) exercising his constitutional rights," Buju's lawyers argued.

But the prosecutors hit back: "As long as the prosecutor has probable cause to believe the accused has committed a crime, the courts have no authority to interfere with a prosecutor's decision to prosecute."

Judge differs

In his ruling, Moody sided with the prosecution.

"The court concludes that, even assuming, for the purpose of argument, that (the) defendant made a threshold showing that his exercise of pretrial rights was followed by charges of increased severity, (the) defendant is not entitled to a presumption of prosecutorial vindictiveness."

Moody added: "The United States' initial indictment did not foreclose it from bringing further charges against the defendant."

In the meantime, there was some good news for Buju on Monday as a judge upheld his request to have the two men initially charged with him appear in court to give evidence during his retrial.

Buju had asked the court that Ian Thomas and James Mack, his two co-accused, be taken from the jail where they are being held and made available to give testimony.

Thomas and Mack have already pleaded guilty to the charges and are awaiting sentencing. They did not testify during the original trial.

SOURCE: Jamaica Gleaner


One Love, To Last A Lifetime

oneloveBob Marley once famously said Rastafarianism wasn't a religion; it was a way of life. And so it seems similar things can be said of reggae music - it's not something you learn, it's in the blood.

Just ask Maxi Priest. Born in 1961 in Lewisham, South London, to Jamaican immigrants, he grew up immersed in the British capital's "golden age of reggae".

By the mid 70s, Marley and other Jamaican musicians such as Gregory Isaacs and Dennis Brown had achieved the seemingly impossible and were being blasted on mainstream radio. And Priest's first cousin Jacob Miller (tragically killed in a car accident in 1980) was an emerging reggae star with the band Inner Circle.

"It was a really special time. I mean, it was the birth of something new," Priest says.

His reggae life has endured. Alongside reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and the queen of hip-hop soul Mary J. Blige, he is headlining Raggamuffin at Rotorua International Stadium on February 5, fittingly, the day before the birthday of Bob Marley.

The one-day event has been running in New Zealand and Australia since 2008 and is considered the premier festival for reggae, soul, and R'n'B.

In its brief history it has attracted heavyweights such as Eddy Grant, Ziggy Marley, Shaggy and Lauryn Hill playing to a crowd of 30,000.

It is, says Priest, the new Sunsplash - a touring festival that was first staged in Jamaica in 1978: "It's a similar thing and I hope it continues to grow that way."

Jackie Sanders, the general manager of Andrew McManus Presents in New Zealand - the company that brings the festival here each year, describes Priest's comments as a "huge compliment".

"Sunsplash put reggae on the world stage and left a legacy that continues to this day," Sanders says. "Raggamuffin is still in its infancy - we're only 4 years old - but we've committed to staging the event in Rotorua for at least another five years. It'd be great to see us still alive and kicking in 30 years though - like Sunsplash."

It's not surprising New Zealand should be the host of such a significant musical event. We are, after all, a nation of reggae lovers. Kiwis have apparently bought more Marley albums, per capita, than anywhere else in the world - a piece of trivia that delights Priest: "I can well believe that," he laughs.

Chris King, strategic marketing manager at Universal Music, the label which looks after the Bob Marley back catalogue in New Zealand, can't confirm the numbers but says there's no denying just how popular the King of Reggae is here.

"We don't have all the necessary figures to confirm that, but I wouldn't be surprised if it were true. Historically, Bob Marley is one of the best-selling international artists in New Zealand and reggae in general is very popular here," he says.

And it's not just overseas reggae artists who do well here. Local bands Katchafire and Fat Freddy's Drop, with their laid-back blend of dub, reggae, soul and jazz, are examples of groups that are bucking the trend of declining album sales.

Katchafire's latest album On The Road Again went gold just five weeks after its release and is on the verge of going platinum. The Hamilton-based seven-piece formed as a Marley tribute in the late 1990s and lead singer Logan Bell says there has always been a high level of interest in the roots-reggae music they make.

"We've always been big on it here in New Zealand. I think it's there from our parents, and their parents, who have passed it down. I can remember hearing reggae when I was a young fella in our street - in shed parties," he says.

What's more, Bell says, in recent years there has been a resurgence in the genre's popularity. "You can see it coming through with a lot of the new reggae bands that are coming up. And the youths - they think it's cool. That's great, because it is the youth that drives all the new trends."

The band has also carved out a niche for itself in North America, particularly on the West Coast and in Hawaii where Bell says they're treated like royalty. "We are practically kings in Hawaii. We can't even go into McDonald's in Waikiki and pay for a Big Mac combo, they just give it to us."

Similarly, Fat Freddy's Drop now has a huge following in the US, this year scoring a spot at one of North America's largest festivals, Coachella. The Wellington collective is only the second Kiwi band, after Crowded House, to make the prestigious bill, which this year sees Kings of Leon lining up against the likes of Kanye West, Arcade Fire and the Strokes.

Fat Freddy's saxophonist Scott Towers (AKA Chopper Reedz) says the Coachella slot comes after years of hard graft on the road and honing the band's live performances. And needless to say, the lads are thrilled.

"Knowing that the programmer for a festival like Coachella thinks you can add something alongside the incredible artists also on the bill is really gratifying," he says.

As to what keeps drawing in the crowds, Towers, like Priest, puts it down to not being afraid to bend the rules. "We draw influences and inspirations from a really broad range of sounds. So while there is a threat of dub and reggae in our music, it's mixed with soul, jazz, techno, 80s funk - whatever sounds good. I think it's that freedom that keeps our sound approachable."

Neither Katchafire nor Fat Freddy's are playing at this year's Raggamuffin. But there is no shortage of good local talent, including Nesian Mystik, 1816 and Sons of Zion.

Priest knew he could sing from a very young age and paid great attention to the musical masters of his youth - Elvis Presley, The Beatles and Marvin Gaye, but particularly to Brown, the man he describes as his greatest idol.

"Dennis Brown has been my biggest influence. He was an inspiration not only musically but culturally. He has my heartstrings." Priest earned his first pay cheque as a carpenter, building speaker boxes for a local reggae band in Lewisham. That eventually led to him picking up the microphone and singing at dancehall sessions around London.

It's a time the singer, who turns 50 this year, remembers fondly. "You felt like you were creating something. Whereas I find today it seems a little bit more difficult to create something new. There's a whole lot more out there and it's pretty crowded.

"But then, it was open and the select few that were doing it had space and time to create something from a blank piece of paper or be inspired by other styles of music."

By 1988, Priest had a hit on his hands with a cover of Cat Steven's Wild World. Flavoured with R&B and pop, the track was not strictly reggae and he came under fire. "In the early days I did get a hard time. You come in youthfully and you come in with a different idea and a different approach and when you're trying to do something different it takes a while for that movement to establish itself," he says.

"But yeah, when I did stuff like House Call with Shabba [Ranks], it was classified as a sell out."

Not deterred by the criticism, Priest honed his own style of lovers' rock and hit after hit followed - including Close to You and Set The Night To Music, his duet with Roberta Flack - as did the imitators.

"After that everybody and their grandmother started to jump on a similar format. And you know, then Shaggy, Sean Paul and various others, even Beanie Man, came along. They looked at it as a winning formula."

These days Priest - who still sports a long mane of dreads - divides his time between London, New York and Jamaica. He's working on a new album, which he can't say too much about right now because he's still ironing out the deal.

He remains a prolific performer and after nearly 30 years in the business, he's well and truly earned his reputation as a veteran and an ambassador of reggae.

It makes sense then that he should be returning to play at Raggamuffin.

It is the perfect place, reckons Priest, to pay back some of the love he's felt from this part of the world.

"I first came to New Zealand probably in the late 1980s and I got the same greeting that Bob got from the Maori people, where they came to the airport. I got all of that.

"I think there is a cultural and a spiritual connection - a similar suffering. And the message that reggae music was preaching at the time [of Marley] was universal to people who had difficulties around the world."

Sanders agrees. "There are recurring themes of love and connection but also of racial oppression and poverty. All of these resonate with many New Zealanders. We are a melting pot of cultures.

"The Ragga crowd are lovers, not fighters, on the day. They are there for the music, the culture, the atmosphere. That 'one love' vibe works its magic and you can't help but go with it," she says.

Raggamuffin will be held at the Rotorua International Stadium on February 5.



Remembering The Great Reggae Icon

bobIn May 1981, Bob Marley died in a Miami hospital on his way back to Jamaica, having lost an eight-month battle with cancer. He was just 36.

By that time, Marley had become an international star, the first to come from the Third World, and the leading disseminator of reggae, the distinctive, rhythm-rooted music he helped create.

Born in 1945, Robert Nesta Marley was the son of a white Jamaican plantation owner and his young Afro-Jamaican wife. After dropping out of school as a teen, Marley teamed up with Neville "Bunny" Livingston, who became known as Bunny Wailer, and Peter McIntosh, who became known as Peter Tosh.

Beginning as a ska/rock steady band, the trio became The Wailers and moved into reggae, while Marley converted to Rastafarianism, wearing the religion's trademark dreadlocks and incorporating its beliefs and social consciousness into the group's lyrics.

The Wailers, who added pop and rock to the reggae blend, were a hit in Jamaica in the early 1970s. In 1973, they released their major label debut "Catch a Fire" and, later in the year, "Burnin'," which included "Get Up, Stand Up" and "I Shot the Sheriff."

The original Wailers broke up in 1974 and Marley recruited brothers Carlton and Aston "Family Man" Barrett as the rhythm section for his new band, Bob Marley and The Wailers, which recorded and performed as a group until Marley's death. Aston Barrett still leads The Wailers, who are scheduled to perform Thursday at the Bourbon Theatre.

Bob Marley and The Wailers released four live albums and seven studio albums. The Wailers and Bob Marley and The Wailers have sold more than 250 million records worldwide and played to an estimated 24 million people. The posthumously released greatest hits package "Legend" has sold more than 10 million copies in the United States alone.

Among the now classic songs on "Legend" are "Is This Love," "No Woman No Cry," "Stir It Up," "One Love," "Redemption Song" and "Jamming."

SOURCE: Journal Star


Bob Marley Celebrates A Birthday

bobThe Legendary Reggae Star Would Have Turned 66 on February 6th. Radio Specials, Streaming Parties, Video Premieres and more planned Bob Marley was born on February 6th, 1945. The legendary reggae star, best known for such exceptional hits as "Could You Be Loved," "One Love" and "Three Little Birds" would have celebrated his 66th birthday this year.

Universal Music Enterprises and Tuff Gong Records team up to present Bob Marley & The Wailers – Live Forever: The Stanley Theatre, Pittsburgh, PA, September 23, 1980. This never before released 2 CD concert was recorded 30 years ago while Bob was touring in support of his famed album, Uprising. Live Forever features many of Bob's most cherished songs.

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