Happy Birthday Bob Marley: Reggae has lost its soul, style, flavor

Reggae legend Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley

Reggae legend Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley in happy times.

By Carmen Glover

On February 6, 1945, Robert Nesta ‘Bob” Marley was born in Nine Miles, St. Ann, Jamaica, West Indies. He would be 70 today. Marley died in Miami, Florida, on May 11, 1981 from skin cancer. Marley’s name is synonymous with quality reggae music that infuses the soul with pulsating, conscious, profound meaning, nuance and power.

Marley’s music and lyrics have the ability to soothe “No Woman No Cry;” unite “One Love,” and “Three Little Birds;” rebuke and reject friction “War;” chart history “Chant Down Babylon, and “Exodus;” respond to conflict “Crazy Baldheads,” and “Bad Card;” seduce “Bend Down Low,” and “Mellow Mood;” and unwind as in “Kaya.”

Bob Marley in his trademark cap.

Bob Marley in his trademark cap.

As the reggae landscape continues to evolve, sometimes the genre is unrecognizable from the era when Marley, Jacob “Killer” Miller, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer,The Burning Spear, Third World, Culture, Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse, Chalice, Junior Reid, Dennis Brown, The I-Threes and other icons toiled meticulously to produce a musical prototype that inspired pride and caused fans to leap to their feet and dance with abandon.

What passes for reggae in this current musical climate is disturbing in some quarters, disappointing in others and embarrassing in far too many instances. While there are some singers, including Marley’s children, who seem committed to carrying on the legacy of inspired reggae music that the iconic musician perfected, it would not hurt if, today, on his birthday, music lovers take some time to savor the exquisite sounds of authentic, inspiring and enjoyable reggae music by listening to Marley’s music.

It’s a great way to say Happy Birthday Bob, reggae music misses you!–OnPointPress.net.

 

Maxi Priest thrills, enchants in SiriusXM listening party

 

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Maxi Priest thrills guests at listening party at SiriusXM for his new album Easy To Love

By Carmen Glover

Sensuous, charming, talented reggae star Maxi Priest had the audience eating out of his hands when he put on a dazzling, yet intimate performance at SiriusXM studios in Manhattan on Wednesday night to give a preview of his latest album, Easy To Love.

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Maxi Priest and DJ Face rock the audience on the sound system.

The event was hosted by veteran Caribbean-born journalist Pat McKay, whose program on SirusXM is called “The Joint.”  Reggae music powerhouse VP Records and the Jamaica Tourist Board sponsored the exclusive event. DJ Face spun music to keep the crowd entertained prior to Priest taking the stage. But once the reggae icon made his appearance the crowd was enthralled, listening raptly, nodding in agreement, asking questions and sharing feedback, as he talked about his musical influences and gave context to his diverse, richly textured background, interspersed with him crooning songs from the new album.

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Maxi Priest is joined by Actor/Singer Leon and Pat McKay of SiriusXM’s The Joint.

“I want to give thanks to God and all the West Indians out there,” Priest said after specifically acknowledging the Jamaicans in the audience. “Tonight is a musical experience. We own this culture and we have to bring it together and keep it together,” he said, imploring the media to continue promoting reggae music. At McKay’s urging, Priest shared details about his early roots in sound systems. “As a kid I used to run around with a sound system, vibing on the microphone,” he said. “I was the hype man and the singer and I also used to build them, then I progressed to working in the studios.”

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Maxi Priest poses with a guest at his listening party.

Describing his musical influences, Priest did not hold back. “I grew up with Dennis Brown and Burning Spear. My heart goes out to Dennis Brown,” he said, before launching into one of the late reggae legend’s hits Should I, as the guests sang along and applauded.  Priest also said that Bob Marley was one of his early influences as well. “When I came into this business I was influenced by Bob,” he said, but he explained that Brown taught him early to “sing for the girls,” advice that he took to heart. Priest talked about the perks of being a musician and he proudly called himself “a lover’s man. I make love, that’s what I do,” he said, as laughter erupted.

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Maxi Priest provided insight into his background at listening party for Easy To Love.

Priest explained that Easy To Love features solid collaborations. “I’ve been fortunate to have worked with Beres Hammond over the years and it was actually him who inspired this album. He kept saying: ‘You should do something with VP’ and I want to big up VP. That’s the foundation that’s left of our music,” he said as the guests echoed their agreement.

“This album will come out the beginning of June,” Priest said of Easy To Love, mentioning some of the producers who worked on the album, including legendary duo Sly & Robbie. Priest performed three of the songs from the album, title track Easy To Love, Loving You Is Easy, and Without A Woman, his duet with Hammond. Mckay coaxed Priest to share his views about his childhood and the role of music in the world.

Maxi Priest

Maxi Priest’s latest album, Easy To Love.

“Love and music bring people together,” he said. “Growing up my challenges were facing responsibilities, making definite decisions and sticking to them. I love this industry. I’ve been blessed to do what I’m doing and to travel. ”

Singer/actor Leon came by as the event was winding down, interacting with Priest before posing for pictures with guests. Priest also introduced his adult son and spoke about health concerns of his newborn daughter. Priest spoke glowingly about a recent Caribbean concert he had with longtime reggae singer Super Cat and expressed hope that music produced by Grammy-winner Shaggy, on his behalf, will eventually see the light of day. Easy to Love will be released in early June and Priest will perform at BB King’s Club in Manhattan on Wednesday, June 11. –OnPointPress.net.

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Reggae stalwarts pass on during month celebrating the music

Wayne Smith changed the course of reggae with his digital tune.

Wayne Smith changed the course of reggae with his digital tune.

By Carmen Glover

When the catchy rhythm “Under Mi Sleng Teng” was released in the 1980’s reggae lovers became immediately enthralled, sampling the smooth tune so often that the musical strains stayed in our psyches on our minds like a longstanding part of life. The death announcement that Wayne Smith, 48, the creative genius who introduced the blend of computerized range and reggae flavor for the memorable “Under Mi Sleng Teng” track, has plunged the reggae community into mourning, two weeks after the death of William ‘Bunny Rugs’ Clarke, 65, the late lead singer for the iconic reggae band, Third World.

The vinyl track for the famous tune.

The vinyl track for the famous tune.

Both deaths have come during February’s Reggae Month, when the music is examined, reminisced about and celebrated in various venues and methods. Clarke died on February 3 and Smith died on February 17. Joe Gibbs also died in February, years ago. When the impact of reggae music is examined, Dennis Brown, who was born February 1 and died in July 1999, Robert Nesta Marley, born February 6 and died May 11 are among the top names mentioned, along with Peter Tosh, Jacob Miller, Sugar Minott and Garnet Silk.

William "Bunny Rugs" Clarke of reggae group Third World.

William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke of reggae group Third World.

With the untimely deaths of Clarke and Smith, the conversation will become broader and more textured to reflect the diversity in reggae music and the expansive span of the creative forces who shaped it over the years.  Smith, who launched a new, digital, era in reggae with his exciting “Under Mi Sleng Teng” tune, will generate conversation as his legacy takes a lead in the hearts, minds and conversations of reggae lovers across the world, as the news of his untimely death continues to reverberate across the globe.  –OnPointPress.net

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