IJahKnowah gives Wake Up call

From his youth, roots artiste IJahKnowah has studied the history and movement of people of African origin. Empowering the black man is something he takes seriously.

Those themes run deep on Wake Up, his six-song EP which was released in October.

According to IJahKnowah, “This EP is specifically directed towards African people, to heal, uplift, educate, enlighten and empower people. That is I man life purpose,” he said.

The Atlanta-based chanter wrote several of the songs on Wake Up years ago while living in Chicago, where he performed on the club and college circuit. Praise Jah, one of its tracks, was laid in 2003 during recording sessions at Tuff Gong in Kingston.

The Tuff Gong sessions were led by veteran keyboardist Dennis “Jah D” Fearon, who was also involved in another round of Kingston sessions with IJahKnowah in 2013.

For most of the songs on Wake Up, including Poppy Show Mascot and the title track, he was backed by his band, B R A P.

IJahKnowah is from St Thomas. A cousin of the Manning brothers of Carlton And The Shoes and The Abyssinians fame, he was strongly influenced by the sounds of roots-reggae icons like Burning Spear and Culture.

Prior to going solo, he was lead singer for the Equal Rights and Natural Force bands.

Like Burning Spear and Culture, Rastafari is a major role in IJahKnowah's music and life.

“From I man perspective, Rastafari is a livity, a way of natural living, in harmony with the whole, of which I've been striving, according to universal laws and principles,” he said.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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