BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter email@example.com
With February being Reggae Month, this is the sixth in an eight-part series looking at reggae's global influence. The music originated in Jamaica but it has been embraced by people in many countries. Today, we feature Roots Queen from Germany.
WHEN she was a teenager in Grevenbroich, a town in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany, Birgit Pydde discovered the reggae beat of Bob Marley and Inner Circle.
Now known as singer Roots Queen, she credits the music's positive tones for seeing her through difficult times. "When I was about 20, I didn't know what life was worth. I moved around, never felt too comfortable and was never really settled. I worked in a lot of places and didn't know what I could do for a career," she told the Jamaica Observer.
That changed 15 years ago when she attended the Summer Jam Festival in Cologne and saw Jamaican artistes performing.
"I knew that this is what I needed to do! This is my mission," she said.
Roots Queen, who is in her early 30s, first visited Jamaica in 2004. She returned in 2007 and stayed for three years.
She is in Jamaica promoting her debut album, Powerful Energy which was recorded locally with top session musicians including percussionist Denver Smith, bass player Dale Haslam and vocalist Niki Burt.
She is pushing Feeling Free, the first single from the album.
"The song describes a situation when I was living in Ocho Rios in a little cottage in 2008. I had no money and I could not pay my landlord," she recalled. "The yard was very fruitful, so I could eat whole heap of mangoes and inspiration was so high I wrote Feeling Free!"
Roots Queen is following the path of Gentleman, a popular singer among lovers of contemporary roots-reggae.
She says the reggae scene in Germany remains vibrant as 30-odd years ago when the music first broke there.
"The nicest time is in summer, a lot of festivals are kept including Summer Jam, Reggae Jam, Chiemsee Reggae," she said.
Roots Queen describes her music as "very authentic". She says her writing is inspired by her time in Jamaica.
"A lot of lyrics were written while I was living in Jamaica. My music is honest, the reggae music was played by real Jamaican musicians and even the dancehall songs are recorded with live horns," she said. "This music is very warm, catchy and spiritual. It represents my lifestyle."