PRINCE MALACHI recalls survival struggles
BEING a first-generation black Briton, singer Prince Malachi is aware of the challenges minorities faced in the United Kingdom over the past six decades. He reflects on their struggles in his new song, The Great Welcome.
"It's the story of those who left the islands so very long ago an' end up in England an' the United States, an' wi neva get such a great welcome," he told the Sunday Observer. "For people in England, the song is all about the Windrush generation an' those who came after."
Hundreds of Caribbean nationals (most of them Jamaican) moved to the United Kingdom in 1948 on the Empire Windrush ship. It was the first wave of mass migration from the region to what was then known as the Mother Country.
Many of the early Caribbean immigrants settled in low-income houses in areas like Brixton. Born and raised in south London to Jamaican parents, 44-year-old Prince Malachi is the son of Winston Wynter, a jazz guitarist who played with the Arawaks band at the Copacabana Club in Bull Bay during the 1950s.
The stocky vocalist has visited Jamaica regularly since he was a child, and speaks patois fluently. Weaned on the work of Bob Marley, Burning Spear, the Abyssinians and Israel Vibration, he credits roots-reggae for shaping his mind and music.
Jah Light, his first album, was released in 1998 on his Mount Ararat label. Critically hailed, it was picked up for distribution in the US by RAS Records and the UK by Jet Star Records.
It also led to a meeting with producer Phillip 'Fattis' Burrell who produced Prince Malachi's next two albums for his Xterminator Records.
Some of the musicians who worked on the Xterminator sessions including saxophonist Dean Fraser, drummer Wilburn 'Squiddly' Cole and bassist Chris Meredith played on songs that will comprise Prince Malachi's fifth album, scheduled to be released in 2014.
Mark Wynter (Prince Malachi's real name) started his career as deejay Federal, recording dance songs sporadically throughout London. In 1998, his music and lifestyle transformed with Jah Light, a rootsy collection that included the sombre title track and the heartfelt Nyahbinghi song, Place to Be.
"The album really emphasise the different meditation mi was going through. Mi was always conscious thinking so it was fitting when I make a move to culture, an' I needed a different name to reflect dat," he explained.
The Great Welcome and My Life, another song Prince Malachi recently released, represent a comeback of sorts. His last album, Runaway Slave, came out on London's Stingray Records nine years ago and was followed by a series of singles for various producers.
He says his recording schedule for independently produced singles has eased considerably.
"Mi kinda stop the juggling thing. It really nuh serve nuh purpose."