Entertainment

J'cans record ska singles to help Japan

BY STEVEN JACKSON Sunday Observer staff reporter jacksons@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, May 22, 2011    

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A total of 18 reggae and dancehall artistes, some of them legends, recorded two ska singles in aid of recovery efforts in earthquake-ravaged Japan.

The singles — Start Over and Matsushima, a B-side instrumental — were produced by Jun Tochino and Yumiko 'Yumi' Gabe, two Japanese women living in Jamaica.

Starting Over features U-Roy, Bunny Wailer, Yellowman, Dean Fraser, Carl Dawkins, Coco Tea, John Holt, Junior Reid, Half Pint, Ken Boothe, Luciano, Marcia Griffiths, Pinchers, Josey Wales, Little John, Tabby Diamond of the Mighty Diamonds, Tristan Palmer, and Steven Stanley.

Start Over and Matsushima are the third set of Japan relief singles done in the island. The other two featured dancehall artistes from Japan and Jamaica.


On March 11 this year, Japan's north-eastern coast was hit by a massive magnitude-9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that took thousands of lives, destroyed infrastructure and wiped some towns off the map.

More than 24,000 people are dead or missing and the disaster sparked an ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

Approximately 160,000 people are still living in evacuation centres such as gymnasiums.

"It will take a long time for Japan to recover and we are determined to support my country," Yumiko said, adding that both recordings have been available online since late April.

The singles showcase the special musical relationship between both countries, said a news release about the project.

Explaining how the project materialised, Jun Tochino said, "First, we asked Tristan for help. Then we contacted Fire House Crew.

Tristan Palmer teamed up with Luciano as the musical directors and took the matter very seriously.

The recording sessions lasted a week.

Starting Over, the producers said, is an uplifting ska tune with an encouraging message for those who have suffered from the biggest disaster in centuries, while Matsushima is a beautiful instrumental featuring Fraser on saxophone.

"This song was inspired by Saitara-Bushi, a famous fishermen's song that originated in the devastated area, Miyagi," Jun explained.

Japanese interest and love for reggae music started in 1985 when Reggae Sunsplash -- the world's first reggae festival that brought thousands of tourists to Jamaica and pushed reggae globally -- started taking artistes on tour to that Asian country.

Reggae Sunsplash maintained the tour for 13 years, giving many Jamaican artistes a foothold in that country which has also developed its own reggae and dancehall acts.

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