Still declaring our rights


Still declaring our rights

Observer senior writer

Thursday, July 02, 2020

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The world was in turmoil in 1969 when roots trio The Abyssinians recorded Declaration of Rights at Studio One in Kingston. Fifty-one years later, the situation is even more dire, which made a redux of the song appropriate.

Produced by Deleon “Jubba” White for White Stone Productions, Declaration of Rights is covered by The Mighty Diamonds and American singer Aaron Nigel Smith. Their version is part of Freedom: (The Declaration of Rights), an EP released on June 19 by Tuff Gong International.

On that date in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln's historic Emancipation Proclamation was read to free slaves in Texas.

White, who is drummer for the Dubtonic Kru, is based in Portland, Oregon. He told the Jamaica Observer that, “ Declaration of Rights was among countless songs I grew up hearing on our radio waves in Jamaica. I can't quite remember the specific year or time that it stood out, and as a child, it's hard to know why a song resonates with you at first. It can be a number of things such as, how often you've heard it, or if the melody is catchy.”

Interestingly, The Mighty Diamonds formed in Trench Town in 1969. In 1982, they first covered Declaration of Rights for their album, The Roots is There.

Freedom” has eight songs, mainly by upcoming acts like Kristine Alicia (This is A Sign), Jahricio and Jah Guidance (Rise Up) and Katteye who contributes African Kings And Queens.

Singjay Frassman Brilliant, who has collaborated on several projects with White, appears alongside the producer on Concrete Jungle.

When The Abyssinians cut Declaration of Rights, Jamaica and the United States were in the midst of social and racial upheaval. In the US, the Civil Rights Movement was at its peak; with the Black Lives Matter movement now making similar impact in that country, White believes it was timely to release Freedom which he recorded four years ago.

Declaration of Rights addresses the plight of the marginalised but simultaneously, serves as an inspiration to all, to be masters of our own destiny. As a young adult, I was able to understand this and that's what it's meant to me ever since,” he said.

The Abyssinians (Bernard Collins, Donald Manning, and Lynford Manning) recorded two songs at Studio One in 1969 the other was Satta Masa Gana, another seminal track. Both were released in 1971 by their Clinch label.

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