A word with Ione Angeles

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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A California girl by birth, Ione Angeles discovered reggae in the 1980s, and got a first-class education in Jamaica's culture when she lived here during the 1990s. Those lessons served her well as she recorded Inna Word , her first solo album.

Produced by Canadian independent company Jah Servant Records, the seven-song piece was released in March. It is patented roots-reggae, the kind Ione Angeles learned at the feet of musicians including drummer Max Edwards and George “Fully” Fullwood of the Soul Syndicate Band.

“My focus for Inna Word was to create a current, cohesive album with the same producer (Mark “Jah Servant” Giles) to express my thoughts, beliefs, while staying true to the roots-reggae formula. My mentor, Max Edwards, taught me a lot about phrasing, simplicity and creating hook lines that are memorable,” she said, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

Ione Angeles and Edwards (who died in December 2011) formed a band called Tengeh, which recorded two albums and performed throughout Europe. She spent much of last year writing and recording songs with Giles and guitarist Brian Steinberg, songs that made it on Inna Word.

They include the title track, the spiritual Bank on Jah (with Trinidadian deejay Jah Mender), the guitar-driven Frontline and Show Me, a ballad that recalls early lovers' rock.

“This album was made in a unique way, through modern technology! I live in California, the producer was in Canada, backing vocalist Tamekia Moncrieffe and vocal engineer Richard “Goofy” Campbell in Jamaica, and my guest vocalists from all over the world,” Angeles explained. “Hundreds of e-mails and files were sent to create the final product, but it worked!”

Going to the studio and recording the conventional way was still hip when Angeles first visited Jamaica in 1990. At the time, she was the singer for an all-female reggae band that performed in California.

Eventually settling in Nine Miles, St Ann, she did farming there for a few years. Angeles also lived in Montego Bay and Oracabessa where she taught basic school, while recording with Edwards and learning the ropes from him and his colleagues.

As beneficial as her years with Edwards and the Soul Syndicate were, Angeles said it was important to stamp her signature on Inna Word.

“I have always wanted to represent reggae in the best way I can, and for me roots and lovers' rock have always been the way to express my spirituality and voice. Although I can chat patois, I feel it is Jamaica's unique voice, and never wanted to sing my songs in that style out of respect, so you get the California girl voice on the traditional rhythms,” she said.


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