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Today's standard bearers

Friday, July 01, 2011



REGGAE music, like sports, has been one of the major influences in keeping Jamaica on top of the world stage. The Maytal's Do the Reggay, released in 1968, was the first song to utilise the word reggae and ultimately gave birth to a burgeoning genre. Today, 48 years later, the reggae flame continues to burn bright, thanks to the pioneers who blazed the trail. And there a new breed of artistes who have taken it unto themselves to carrying the tradition.


Tarrus Riley


As the offspring of reggae veteran Jimmy Riley, one could easily conclude that Tarrus Riley's musical journey was inevitable. The talented singer/ songwriter made his debut single as a teenager and has been creating musical waves worldwide since.


In 2004, Taurus released his debut album Challenges, which made way for Parables in 2006. Parables gave Tarrus the musical breakthrough he needed with the hit single She's Royal — a single that not only went number one in the Caribbean but also topped the reggae charts in Europe. In 2009, the reggae singer released his third album Contagious, which featured guest appearances from Konshens, Etana and Damian Marley among others. Other notable singles include Superman, Shaka Zulu Pickney, Stay With You, and Beware.


The artiste, born Omar Riley is without a doubt one of several reggae acts who ensures that reggae/dancehall music remains active worldwide.


Etana


Etana, who hails from August Town, emerged on the entertainment circuit little over a decade ago as part of a group called Gift. After leaving the group, Etana embraced the Rastafari principles before recording the single Wrong Address — a single well received by both the local and international music markets.


First signed to the Kingston-based Fifth Element Records, her second major hit Roots was inspired by her visit to the West African Nation of Ghana, where she was well received the African people. When the dominant voices of popular music were filled with sexual and violent lyrics, this songbird took a different refreshing approach by using her melodies to compile her debut album The Strong One in 2007. Notable singles on the album include I Am Not Afraid, Jah Chariot, Warrior Love, I'll Be The One, Overcome, and Nuclear.


Along with being in the recording studios, engaging in numerous promotions and doing video shoots, Etana's busy schedule also includes various tours of Europe, Africa, United States, and the Caribbean. This female reggae songstress continues to captitalise not only on her success but also that of reggae music. Her latest album Free Expression was released in February of this year.


Duane Stephenson


Duane Stephenson could easily be referred to as one of Jamaica's finest and powerful reggae acts.


A former member of the Cathy Levy Little People and Teen Players Club and To Isis, Stephenson had the privilege of not only touring Jamaica but travelling extensively throughout the Caribbean and the United States.


His first solo album From August Town in 2008 was well received by Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans alike. The August Town native greatly impacted Jamaica's music with his soulful, heartfelt lyrics. With the release of his album Stephenson gained thousands of new fans worldwide. He, along with Dean Fraser, has toured sections of the Caribbean, Europe and the USA.


With his debut album being a hit, fans eagerly anticipated a second album and the reggae singer did not disappoint with the release of Black Gold. With this album, Stephenson poured his soul. "When we do an album, we do music that people can relate to because any situation you find yourself in, chances are someone else has found themself in that situation. It is real-life situations, so the real-life emotions come out; that is how it is," says the reggae singer, who continously contributes to the excellence of reggae music worldwide.


Queen Ifrica


Flames Production recording artiste Queen Ifrica is one of several female artistes who have etched their names into reggae's history.


The artiste, born Ventrice Morgan, is the daughter of legendary ska act Derrick Morgan. Under the tutelage of artiste Tony Rebel, Queen Ifrica has kept the reggae torch blazing, not only in Jamaica but worldwide. She has performed various gigs from California in the US to the reggae festivals of Europe and Caribbean.


Known as the Fyah Muma, she has worked her way up to being one of the premier female cultural reggae acts. Ifrica is best known for her messages in her albums Road To MoBay, Montego Bay and Fyah Muma.


Using her lyrics, Ifrica isn't afraid to lash out against stigmatisation, incest and violence in any form. This is evident in her singles Daddy, Far Away, Lioness on the Rise, Times Like These, Below The Waist, Story of My Life, andServe the King.


Like other reggae acts, the Fyah Muma continues to make musical strides, that has an overwhelming impact on the world of reggae music.