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Getting to the root of it

Observer senior reporter

Friday, October 20, 2017

GROWING up in Clarendon, Levi Roots always wanted to live and perform in Jamaica's capital, Kingston. Decades later, that desire to perform in the city still burns in the heart of the UK-based reggae musician, television personality, celebrity chef and businessman.

Come this evening, Levi Roots' lifetime dream will come true when he headlines Music and Food for Friends, which also features songbirds Keisha Patterson and Della Manley.

“I just want to give back to Kingston and all the people who have been good to me in the city. I have never performed here and it is a really personal thing for me to perform in Kingston as this is something I have always wanted to do. The event brings together food and music, two things which are very close to me. I never separate the two as before there was the food there was the music, and it was the guitar and the music which really helped me secure my place in the food market with my Reggae Reggae Sauce,” he told Jamaica Observer.

Levi Roots, whose given name is Keith Graham, rose to prominence in the UK after having appeared on entrepreneurship reality TV show The Dragon's Den. Since then he has become the most successful contestant, driving a multimillion-pound empire with his Reggae Reggae brand of sauces.

“I will be giving patrons the Levi Roots experience — my blend of reggae music and Caribbean cuisine. It will be a cooking demonstration along with great music,” he noted.

Although he is best known for his food, Levi Roots is equally proud of his musical acumen.

“My musical style can best be described as British lovers' rock. It is that blend of authentic reggae rhythms, but the lyrics speak to love and tender moments. It is inspired by the work of people like Gregory Isaacs. I currently have two albums out right now, which are doing very well. Rise Above was recorded here in Jamaica at Harry J Recording Studio. It's songs that everyone can enjoy — original tracks as well as a few covers. The second album is [a] compilation three-CD box set — Levi Roots Presents Reggae Reggae Hits. This album has hit number three on the main chart in the UK. It is 30 tracks, the top reggae hits of the past 30 years in the UK and includes classics such as Young, Gifted and Black by Marcia Griffiths and Bob Andy, Sun is Shining by Bob Marley and Junior Marvin's Police and Thief.

“I really want to play my part in getting reggae music back to the level it was at in the UK back in the 1970s and 80s. So this marriage of my food and the music is key. I am selling millions of bottles of my sauces and I want to get our music back into those British homes along with the Reggae Reggae brand,” he added.

Levi Roots' latest project is his restaurant Caribbean Smokehouse located in the Westfield Shopping Centre in London. The restaurant, he stated, has the potential to be an even bigger earner that the sauces.