Royal Khaoz look to Miriam

The Bible produced the first strong women — Mary, Ruth, Naomi and Miriam are just some of those ancient heroines. The latter inspired Miriam, a song by Royal Khaoz, a band of Jamaicans based in New York City.

Scheduled for official release next week, it is co-written by lead singer Jermaine "Bama" Williams and bassist Kavi "Coco" Forgie. Miriam is produced by keyboardist Andre "Dretegs" Hawthorne, who rounds out the band's core members.

"It's inspired by Miriam, biblical character, best known for helping to deliver Moses at the Nile river and leading the Hebrew women in singing, dancing, and playing drums after crossing the Red Sea. The song is dedicated to fearless leaders, loving sisters and heroic Miriams in our lives," said Forgie.

Dretegs, who has produced songs by Jesse Royal, Dre Island and Chi Ching Ching, told the Jamaica Observer that Royal Khaos called on their diverse influences when recording Miriam which he describes as "One drop [reggae] with a tablespoon of R&B, sprinkled with jazz".

While he appreciates the blending of genres that is common in contemporary music, Dretegs added that he and his colleagues are determined to be identified with the music of their homeland.

"I think the instrumentation should reflect the intent/story of the song. We are in an age where the line between genres are blurred more frequently. So, it's important to have a distinctive attribute to identify authentic reggae music, [which includes] solid drum, hi-hat patterns and bassline, then sweeten it with melodies and progressions," he said.

Williams, Forgie and Dretegs migrated to the United States as youngsters. Royal Khaoz officially formed in 2012 and have released a number of hard-hitting reggae singles such as Walk wid Jah and Children of Zion.

They have also performed throughout New York City, the US West Coast and Caribbean.

Royal Khaoz
Howard Campbell

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