An Epic, Candlelit NarrativeSunday, October 24, 2021
Style Observer (SO) has long believed that there are stories galore waiting to be told and that they are found in the least likely places! A trip to Main Street, Jamaica, in Montego Bay, and the purchase of an Obara Handmade Candle, made with 100% soy wax, so perfectly packaged and subtly fragranced [wooden wick for clean burning that releases a fusion of lavender buds and essential oil] led us to send a congratulatory note to Obara principal Errol Rennalls.
Here's the good news: the candle is still burning after SO's epic voyage that commenced in the '80s when Rennalls left the United Kingdom and headed for Germany as part of a dance group. “The group,” shared Rennalls, “toured Germany for three years until the music business came knocking.” The knock proved too forceful to ignore. Rennalls formed a group by the name of Fresh & Fly and recorded two singles before disbanding. He was then invited to work at the German independent record label SPV where he learnt the functions and workings of the music business as an A&R/product manager.
“After a three-year stint at SPV I decided to team up with Mousse T, a then young music producer/DJ. Soon after we both formed a club label called Peppermint Jam Records, and thereafter specialised in house music,” he added. “Armed with my experience as a music manager, Mousse T and I, coupled with our joint songwriting abilities, soon found notoriety on the global music scene, writing songs for famous artistes such as Randy Crawford, Bootsy Collins, Roachford, Tom Jones, Simply Red, Zucchero, and remixing for Michael Jackson, Ziggy Marley, Shabba Ranks, Quincy Jones, Barry Manilow, and many others. Signing to our own label Peppermint Jam included Omar, Roachford Cunnie Williams and a string of club deejay producers and artistes.
The label's international success saw us notch up over 10 top 10 singles in Europe, the biggest being Horny in 1998, which sold a whopping 15 million units and was used in several films and adverts. The song also earning both Mousse T and myself the Ivor Novello British songwriting awards for best dance song in 1999. This was followed by our second world hit for the legendary Sir Tom Jones, for whom we wrote the song Sex Bomb in 2000. This song reached multi-million-selling status with an Ivor Novello nomination for best British song.
“With this relatively quick success came many distractions, and various business ventures followed. Mousse T and myself decided to build an entertainment complex which housed four high-class music studios, an event company and a restaurant called The Peppermint Pavillion.
In 2012, we went on to acquire SPV records, the company where I learnt the music business. At the time it was a large independent record company and worldwide distribution company.
I was then chosen to be SPV's CEO where I signed The Game, Eric Benet, Wu-Tang Clan, En Vogue and Death Row Records back catalogue that included Snoop Dog, Dr Dre, Tupac Shakur. SPV Records was known for its massive heavy rock catalogue.”
Hopefully, you are as gobsmacked as SO! There'd be more... Rennall's emphatic business success kept him away from his true passion which was creative songwriting.
In his own words, he “became uninterested in the type of music my company was releasing, and went onto a path to find me and what was really my purpose in life. I began to ask myself who I was and from whence I came. Yes, my ancestors ended up in Jamaica, but who were these people before the Atlantic Passage? I then began to study and travel more to understand the true history of my ancestors.
I then wondered, why did I not learn this in school? It was prophesied that a people would be scattered into the four corners of the earth. My research and travel has reinforced my belief that Jamaicans for the most part are of the southern Tribes of Israel, we are not Jews, we are of the bloodline of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, making us Israelites.
I am not a religious person, but I do endeavour to practise my ancestral culture as it is written in our ancient tablets.
Seven years ago a group of individuals, me included, heeded a call to converge on an area in Southern Israel called Tel Arad. This desolate desert region is where a group of biblical researchers believes the true biblical Jerusalem is situated. The group performed cultural ceremonies such as Passover/Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of First Fruits and Feast of Tabernacles, exactly as the scriptures instructs our people to do at the right place, at the right time. Our aim is to introduce our people back to their lost culture without being religious but keeping our cultural heritage as it is written. Furthermore, to be restored as a nation again with our own original land, our own original laws, and own original language, practising our own original culture. We believe that all Abrahamic religions have adopted segments of our culture and have created their own version which they call religion. Culture is a lifestyle, a set of values and meaningful customs that flows in harmony with the land and its people, a dietary law that is conducive to our DNA, restoring the position of our elders and following our laws in peace.
Obara in our ancient tongue means “cross”. We are the people of the cross. “RBO” written from right to left and our original alphabet was very similar to ancient Greek.
“On my last trip to Israel before the pandemic I decided I wanted to learn skill sets outside of music and management. I decided to do an ancient soap-making course and realised that soap was an item that had its roots deeply anchored to the Israelite/Egyptian history. In fact, the more I researched the more I understood that much of our everyday items have their roots in our ancient culture. Thus, rather than preach or teach this culture, I chose to do the culture and be creative with it. Upon moving to Jamaica, my wife and I decided to create the Obara Handmade and Wellness line with a goal to create sustainable healthy effective products using organic herbal remedies. We started with making 100% natural soaps using cold-pressed olive and coconut oil which is combined with some of the amazing herbs Jamaica has to offer, as well as Ethiopian frankincense, activated charcoal and hemp as our ancestors did. Our tea collection made with herbs and blooms are great for everyday all-round wellness. Our shampoo bars and salves are made with our very own Jamaican herbs as well as Dead Sea Bath Salts, as another hint of our ancient roots. We have very recently ventured into candle making and decided that our candle collection must be an eye-catcher and a nose-pleaser experience. We'll let the consumer decide. We are meticulous as to how our product is packaged and go to great lengths to make our product appealing as a premium brand displaying cultural meaning, health and wellness benefits and Jamaican excellence.” Rennalls' promise is to continue to develop his brand adding many more beautiful products and, yes, stories! SOooooo not sure if he can top this one, but we eagerly anticipate.
Obara handmade candles, soaps, essential oils, herbal teas, salve and beard balms are available at Main Street, Jamaica Rose Hall