Keithus I stays true to roots

Monday, November 16, 2015

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ONE of thousands of Jamaican whose social awareness was peaked by roots reggae in the early 1970s, singer Keithus I is an unapologetic defender of that genre.


He stays true to its tenets on Changes, his second album, which will be released on Friday.


"Roots-reggae will always live. It can never die because it's the sound and words of truth and rights, and will always be carried on and upheld by defenders of truths," Keithus I said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer from his home in Hartford, Connecticut.


On Changes, he reaches out to the new generation of conscious artistes and fans with System Set, a song with singer Jessie Royal. Another collaboration, Traditional Affairs, is done with singer Leiba Hibbert.


Recorded at Anchor and Mixemotions studios in Kingston and Boston, respectively, Changes took almost two years to complete. Keithus I worked with the seasoned Firehouse Crew, as well as upcoming musicians such as Addis Pablo.


"The most satisfying aspect about it is its completion and how it all gel from its conception," he said.


Changes is the Kingston-born artiste's second album. The first, Then And Now, was released in 2012.


Raised in Allman Town, Keithus I (real name Milton Samuels) first made his name as a footballer. In the late 1960s he was a member of the powerful Vere Technical daCosta Cup team with Orville Edwards, Corsel Blair, Kenneth 'Bop' Campbell and Las Shaw.


Inspired by Rastafari and the roots revolution, Keithus I began recording in the mid-1970s, his first song being Red Hot. It was done at the Tuff Gong studio with members of the Wailers; bassist Aston 'Familyman' Barrett, drummer Carlton Barrett, and keyboardist Tyrone Downie.


-- Howard Campbell


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