Entertainment

Garvey and the music

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

Sunday, August 03, 2014    

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FOR over 40 years, the work of Pan African hero Marcus Garvey has inspired many classic reggae songs. Producer David 'Scorpion' Harris is the latest to salute one of the 20th century's true icons.

The London-based Harris is preparing to release a series of 'riddims' based on Garvey's legacy.

Liberty Hall, the first of these productions, will be released just before August 17, Garvey's birthday.

This year also marks the centenary of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), which Garvey established.

The Liberty Hall will be followed by the Amy Jacques Garvey (named for Garvey's second wife) and the Whirlwind. Each features songs by a cast of roots acts.

"I have been voicing various artistes on some of these riddims for about a year and wanted to find some titles for the riddims which carried some significance," Harris told the Sunday Observer.

"This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the UNIA so this is a good time to highlight the greatness of Marcus Garvey."

Liberty Hall, which Garvey founded in 1923, still stands in downtown Kingston. It was a meeting place for progressives who stood against British colonialism and advocated repatriation of black people to Africa.

The St Ann-born Garvey, Jamaica's first National Hero, died in London in 1940 at age 53. While his legacy has been cited in song by roots luminaries like Bob Marley and Burning Spear, Harris believes his work is lost to many in contemporary reggae.

"A few nowadays artistes are just 'reggae dreads' hiding under locks. They put on locks to try to get some European festival bookings, and prefer to endorse consumerism and European multinational companies and talk about 'brand' this n' that, rather than be an ambassador for African redemption," he said.

Harris, who discovered the work of Garvey and other black leaders as a youth in England, is head of Gully Bank Musik Ltd.

He has produced songs by a number of Jamaican acts including Duane Stephenson, Hezron, Doniki, Leontre and Kiddus I.

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