Friday, January 16, 2004
Nasio (right) at Boys’ Town for his recent album launch (Photo: Devon Chin)
Dominica’s roots rock Reggae sensation, Nasio Fontaine, has expressed the view that Jamaican music needs to return to its roots as a vehicle advocating social change.
“If you don’t have any roots you cannot grow, Jamaica needs to return to roots rock Reggae music,” Nasio said in an interview with Splash.
“Why?” he asked rhetorically, before adding – “Jamaica was the teacher of the earth through the music. There was a time when I listened to the music and it told me what is going on in South Africa, India and America.”
As the New York-based Rastafarian singer spoke passionately about the genre with which he is identified, he further noted: “I wouldn’t say the music has left its roots completely, it needs to be more assertive, the world is depending upon it for that. For if there is any music on the earth that is going to bring about a change, Reggae must be that music. More conscious lyrics, more teachings, more history. Not what they taught us, but what life has taught us.”
Ahead of his appearance at Rebel Salute tomorrow night, Nasio on Tuesday went on a pilgrimage to the cradle of roots Reggae to launch his latest album Living In The Positive at the Boys’ Town Sports Complex in Trench Town.
There he connected with the local music fans from the area with an introductory stint that whetted their appetite for his first major performance in Jamaica.
“This music was born here. It was born out of suffering and downpression and that cry went throughout the earth. Roots music is the foundation for me. That’s the way I describe myself the easiest, the way I can explain music the easiest, by playing roots music. It doesn’t come like a stranger to me.
It comes like what I am, who I am, and I don’t have any difficulty expressing it, it just flows,” Nasio explained.
He also shared with Splash his vision for what he hopes to accomplish through his music.
“We want to increase positiveness through music, we want to make the earth a better place for the safety of mankind, we want to see the availability of more clean water, fresh air, a more wholesome environment. And the music can be used to do that. We can definitely do it through music”.
To hear Nasio speak about his discovery of roots rock Reggae is to grasp his sincerity.
“I never knew we were going to get so involved with the music until we started to hear artistes like Jacob Miller, Jimmy Cliff, Culture, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, then I realised the things that they were saying through the music was the same thing that we were suffering during that time and that was a direct inspiration and motivation”, said the artiste who rose from a one room wooden house in which he was born with no running water and no electricity.
In 1992, he recorded the album Reggae Power at the Mixing Lab Studios with some of the island’s leading musicians while Living In The Positive is the first product for his Higher Love Music Company.
“My whole catalogue which also includes the album Revolution is going to be re-issued by my company.”
Now being eyed by two major record labels which he declines to name at this time, Nasio is cautious about record deals.
“Its good to be able to work with an entity or a company that
represents the music the way you would want it to be represented. If people come to talk and it sounds good and wi see where it will benefit not only us, but it will go to the point where we want to take it, then definitely we’ll take up such an offer. It’s always good to say you sign a deal, but sign to what? We didn’t create the music to just give it away.
That wouldn’t be representing the people. We would like to represent the people at all times,” the man who is from Carib descendants said with passion.
From Rebel Salute Nasio heads back to New York, before starting a five-island Caribbean tour, after which he’ll be doing the Bob Marley Festivals in Miami and in Washington DC, as well as the New Orleans Jazz Festival.
“We did ‘Reggae on the River’ couple years ago, and they called us back, they want us to do it again, so we’ll be going to the West Coast (western United States) to do some work and we’re looking forward to be doing most of the summer festivals this year”.