Gentleman calls for more message music
At age 11 a young boy, Tilmann Otto in his homeland Osnabrück, Germany, heard the sounds of late artistes Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Alton Ellis and Delroy Wilson from David Rodigan on British radio, and it touched something in his innermost soul.
That young boy made a discovery which would later change the way he saw music. "I realised there is music which goes beyond entertainment," he recalls.
Today, performing under the moniker Gentleman, he is now living the dream which started in his youth — singing message music.
Now a seasoned campaigner for reggae, Gentleman says it is his dream to hear more music with uplifting content, more music with meaning.
"There are so many good artistes out there who don't get the appreciation they deserve. I would like to see more reggae artistes established in the mainstream," he says, stressing the huge influence that this form of music has on society.
"I think a lot of artistes underestimate the power of the word. That's why there is so much negativity in the music also. The reputation of reggae music did suffer in the last years, but I feel a lot of people out and in the industry are longing for a change so that the world can see the beauty and the positivity of the music again," are words coming from German singer, who refers to Jamaica as his "home away from home".
The son of a Lutheran pastor, Gentleman has been travelling to Jamaica from the age of 16. He began his recording career as a deejay with sounds like Pow Pow and Silly Walk. He also did a collab with a German hip hop band, Freundeskreis, the song making it in the top 20 German Billboard charts.
Gentleman soon signed with an independent label called Four Music where he got the opportunity to record his debut album in Jamaica.
"I wrote songs with Jack Radics, Daddy Rings and learned a lot about song writing. Richie Stephens and Red Rose were the first producers who opened doors for me," he told the Splash.
Among the songs he recorded and which enjoyed a lot of love here in Jamaica were Leave Us Alone, Jah Jah Never Fail, Heat of the Night, and Superior.
His latest recording is Live Your Life Today, a song done with Richie Stephens.
"This song is based on a very personal experience and everybody can identify with the message," said Gentleman, adding that when he and Stephens sang it for the first time at a music festival "it was magic".
Commenting on his experience with Jamaican producers Gentleman says "It was a blessing and a big inspiration to work with producers like Black Scorpio, Fattis, Bobby Digital, Firehouse, Dean Fraser, Xterminator, Jammys and Don Corleon.
Gentleman's international breakthrough came with Intoxication and the chance to tour all over with his The Evolution band.
In January 2012 when the next staging of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival takes place Gentleman will be sharing the stage with Richie Stephens and it is something he is looking forward to.
"I invited Richie Stephens to Europe, now he invites me to share in his set and I am looking forward to this outstanding festival. Fans can expect a show with a lot of passion and energy," he said of his upcoming stint on the festival.
And, for him it will be another opportunity to bask in his love and appreciation for the island which he describes as having "a lot of culture, reasoning, love and laughter. Wonderful music and beautiful women. I love the mountains, the sea, the food and the ganja!"
On the horizon, Gentleman is looking to his upcoming album Diversity, which will be released in March 2012 by VP Records.