A Better Way for Jah Tee

Saturday, October 20, 2018

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As excited as he is about completing a first album, singer/guitarist Jah Tee is even more pumped-up to visit Africa in November where he will perform on the Nigeria Reggae Festival. It will be his maiden trip to the Motherland.

The gig comes at an appropriate time as Better Way, the lead single from his album of the same name, recently entered the New York Reggae Chart.

“It do well yuh nuh. It definitely help mi get a few more shows 'round town,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

'Round town' is South Florida where Jah Tee has lived since 2000. He migrated to the United States in 1971, residing in New York and making a name for himself as a guitarist in bands like Island Sound, Wassin and Space Traveller.

Island Sound and Wassin were reggae units that backed reggae acts like Michigan and Smiley, The Melodians, Norris Weir and Dobby Dobson when they passed through the Big Apple. Space Traveller was a calypso collective that supported major artistes including The Mighty Sparrow.

It was while attending New York Technical College as a liberal arts student that Noel Young (Jah Tee's real name) delved more into African history.

“As a Jamaican, I went to the US and found out about racism and the challenges of being a black man. But I also learned about the division of black people and became passionate about unity, 'cause nuh matter where yuh come from once yuh black yuh is a African,” he declared.

Some of the songs he did early in his recording career, including Never Give Up and Peace On Earth, are on Better Way. Jah Tee, whose guitar sound is influenced by blues greats B B King and Eric Clapton, plays on most of the tracks.

Originally from the May Pen, Four Paths regions of Clarendon, he is the son of former People's National Party Member of Parliament Dallas Young.

Jah Tee considers completing his first album in his 60s a big achievement.

“It gives me a sense of legacy. At this stage of the game, that's what it's all about,” he said.

—Howard Campbell

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