PRINCE ALLA'S second coming

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

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ROOTS-REGGAE has always been linked to rebels like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Burning Spear. But there have also been the 'mystics' which include Augustus Pablo, Yabby You and Prince Alla.

Now 65, Prince Alla is the lone survivor of the three artistes who have cult followings in Europe, Asia and the United States West Coast.

He is a featured act on the Green For Life/Redbones Blues Cafe's show at that Kingston venue on Saturday.

It is Prince Alla's second performance at the venue in three months. He was well received there in June, a reception that surprised him, given his low profile in Jamaica.

"I was kinda shocked how the people love the music 'cause I don't really do a lotta show here. It went well yuh nuh," he said.

Like most roots-reggae artistes, Prince Alla performs mainly in Europe where his songs, which include Stoned and Bucket Bottom, are underground classics.

He has nine studio albums which are largely distributed by small companies on that continent, especially in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands and France.

At home, Prince Alla is best known in Greenwich Farm, the music-rich Kingston community where he has lived most of his life, and recorded.

Stoned and Bucket Bottom were produced by Bertram Brown for Freedom Sounds, a label that promoted artistes from Maxfield Avenue/Greenwich Farm in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

Likening himself to a 'lost penny', he points to lack of management for him not having a mainstream presence.

"Mi neva get the proper promotion. Is not like a man used to carry mi music go di radio station dem. So people neva really get fi know mi," he said.

Born Keith Blake in St Elizabeth, Prince Alla cut his musical teeth in Greenwich Farm, an area that has nurtured the careers of singers Slim Smith, Cornel Campbell and John Holt.

His early recordings were done in the early 1970s for Joe Gibbs, but his most potent songs were produced by Brown late in the decade.

On Saturday, Prince Alla performs at Redbones Blues Cafe alongside roots singers Kiddus-I, Magma, Donovan Joseph, Ruffian, K Vibes and Hugh English.

-- Howard Campbell

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