MONTEGO BAY, St James: French up-and-coming reggae artiste Ben Hompaya left the island recently after recording his debut single, Love Universally, a collaborative effort with local dancehall act Cassafyah.
Hompaya — whose real name is Benoit Hansen — described the single as a prayer, calling for people to refrain from their evil ways and live together in "true love and harmony".
The Frenchman, who hails from Annecy, said he was introduced to the genre at an early age in his homeland, where there are a number of reggae fans.
"When I was 15, I was listening different music and I started to listen to reggae. The more I listened it, was the better I felt. It played at parties and concerts in Annecy, Alps in the mountain of France. There are a lot of reggae fans there," Hompaya said.
During a promotional tour with Cassafyah for the single in Montego Bay recently, Hompaya — who is a trained engineer — disclosed that he left his native land three years ago on a soul-searching journey.
"I have travelled to Africa, South America, and other countries, on a spiritual search to understand the truth of humanity better," Hompaya saidd, adding that his path and Cassafya's were pre-destined to cross.
"I found many things on the trip. I met many people and many cultures which explained many different things of many different religion," he said.
He expressed his desire to perform on festivals to spread the reggae message to the world before returning to the island in December to perform of Sting.
Meanwhile, Cassafya is one of the opening acts on dancehall night at Sumfest.