Living by ‘prophecy’

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer staff reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, March 06, 2014    

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The Jamaica Observer continues its Pon Di Ends features which looks at communities which influence the music.

ST Thomas is considered one of the poorest parishes in Jamaica but has a rich history in terms of the country's push towards Independence from Britain.

It is the birthplace of National Hero Paul Bogle, and Morant Bay, its chief town, was the site of the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion in which Bogle and future National Hero George William Gordon were hung for treason.

The Crown ruled that they sparked a bloody rebellion of small black farmers against white plantation owners.

St Thomas, a coastal area located in eastern Jamaica, has also produced a number of reggae/dancehall artistes, including Bushman, Popcaan, Natty King, Patexx, Stein and Prophecy.

"Every song that I write and record is rooted back here. This is where I garnered a lot of musical inspiration as St Thomas has a large Rastafarian community who taught me a lot," said Prophecy.

The entertainer, whose real name is Rohan Brown, spent most of his early years on Nuts River Road, Morant Bay. There, he penned Don't Come Tell Me which won the Red Stripe Big Break Competition in 2005, and the hit song Body Bag.

Growing up in a family of Seventh-day Adventists, Prophecy said his youth was defined by a sense of righteousness.

"From early out, I knew that I wanted to be a singer as my mother, a Christian, used to sing around the house daily. I knew I wasn't going to sing for the church but that I was going to do authentic conscious music," Prophecy told the Jamaica Observer.

"My house was situated right behind the Princess Margaret Hospital so I saw first-hand

some of the casualties that came there," he added. "Then and there I knew that it was better for a man to die of natural causes as crime doesn't pay."

St Thomas is lush with vegetation and white sand beaches. One of those leisure spots is Lysson's Beach which also inspired Prophecy.

Located on its shores is a tiny commune of huts and board houses. He greeted a group of Rastafarians who reside there.

"These are a few of the elders who helped to grow me. It was the community that grew the children and not just the parents," he said.

St Thomas was once associated with Robert Lightbourne, a member of parliament and trade and industry minister of Jamaica during the 1960s.

Before the lean years, the parish thrived economically with major companies such as the Goodyear tyre company based there.

Prophecy earned a national profile in 1998 by making the top 10 of the Popular Song Contest with the single Higher Ground. Seven years later, he won the Big Break Competition.

In 2011, he released his debut album Break Loose which featured Body Bag, as well as Chance and Don't Come Tell I.

Among the 42-year-old's latest releases are Reggae in Demand, Make It Happen, How Could I and September Rain, a collaboration with singer Stream.

Prophecy is currently recording tracks for his second album, A Free Man, scheduled for release in May.





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