Tuff Gong going strong

BY BASIL WALTERS Observer staff reporter

Sunday, November 27, 2011    

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INTERNATIONAL artistes of all genres have landed in Jamaica with the sole purpose of using Bob Marley-built Tuff Gong International Recording Studio on Marcus Garvey Drive in St Andrew.

So far this year, the list of artistes includes Flamingo from New Caledonia (South Pacific); Polish band Star Muffin Guard; Senegalese Meta Dia; American rock group End Of A Year; Haitian Louinel Jean; Stone Rock out of Sweden, Tom Elmhirst from London's Hokeito Productions; China Harbour Engineeering Reggae Land Production from Spain and the BBC's film crew that did a documentry on the historic recording site.

"It is a very important part of our tourism product. The only place that has been visited more in Jamaica than the Bob Marley Museum and Mausoleum, is Dunn's River Fall. But the Studio (Tuff Gong) is visited more in terms of the international recording community," said Colin Leslie, former managing director and corporate consultant of Tuff Gong Group of Companies.

While in Jamaica for a show in April, Meta Dia recorded his album Ancient Power at the facility. Two years prior, Meta Dia's fellow countryman, Youssou N' Dour, recorded his album Remember at the studio.

At the time Youssou N' Dour was quoted saying: "I am a big fan of reggae music. I grew up with Bob Marley and his generation and I still don't know why I didn't do reggae when I began in music."

"But now something going to happen in Senegal called Fesman. It's a big festival about the diaspora and we think it's a good occasion to celebrate Bob Marley and all this reggae music," he continued.

For Polish reggae band Star Guard Muffin it was a dream come true.

"We are very happy to be here to record five songs. We play for three years and Jamaica is the most important lesson for us because this is the source of the music. We are here and we listen and listen and learned ... it's our dream," said band manager Maken.

The same sentiments were echoed by Ivory Coast artiste Dobet Gnahore', who visited the facility while in Jamaica for a performance a month ago.

"It was a long-time dream, I've been dreaming about coming to and performing in Jamaica since ... forever. It's my dream (to do a recording here) maybe one day God will decide. I love reggae. I love Bob Marley. I listen to him everyday," Gnahore' said.

Tuff Gong International Studio was founded by Jamaican reggae superstar Bob Marley in 1975. Marley was affectionately called 'The Gong', which is incidentally the same nickname of the founder of the Rastafarian movement — Leonard 'The Gong' Howell.

However, the Tuff Gong record label was formed by the reggae group The Wailin Wailers in 1970, featuring Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and, at different times, Junior Braithwaite, Constantine 'Vision' Walker, Beverley Kelso and Cherry Smith.

The mastering room at the complex gave birth to such songs as No Woman Nuh Cry, Trench Town Rock, Stir It Up, Concrete Jungle, Redemption Song, Buffalo Soldier and Could You Be Loved.





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