Category Archives: Music

The March Goes On

Greetings Mi Irieites,

Today, 28th August 2014 is the 1st anniversary of the 50th anniversary “March On Washington,” initially orchestrated by Dr Martin Luther King.  I was proud to make my exodus to be present at the occasion.

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But what is equally as significant is that today is also the anniversary of the killing of Emmett Till (25th July 1941-28th Aug 1955), which took place almost 60 years ago.

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Emmett, who was barely age 14 coming from Chicago, spent only a week in Money, Mississippi when he was murdered by a group of extremists that owned a local grocery store.  His alleged crime was that he “whistled at a white woman,” who was one of the store owners.

Although several lynching and brutal murders took place over the years prior to this incident, it was the barbaric torture and ultimate shooting of this youngster that had us all from the Diaspora, looking in the direction of seeking Justice for any unjustifiable slayings of black youths, especially when perpetuated on “racist grounds.”

We are living in times where history has no reason to be repeating itself.

In the meantime, we lift our “crowns and hats” to George Jackson, whose anniversary killing was exactly a week ago (21st August 1971).

It’s “Love And Justice thru Music.”

H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie I – Earthstrong Thanks & Praise

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Born on July 23, 1892, Ejersa Goro, Ethiopia, H.I.M. Emperor Haile Selassie is a continual inspiration for Steel Pulse and millions around the globe.  We search for the truth and hunger for justice in his name.  To commemorate  His Majesty’s birthday, LIFE presents photos from H.I.M.’s  historic 1966 trip to the Caribbean.

The Lion of Judah breaks every chain.

Selah.

 

5 Years On: Remembering Michael Jackson

Hail Mi Irieites,

I’ve been reflecting on Michael Jackson and his artistic legacy.  He was a true son of music and a dedicated artist whose work we are only just beginning to appreciate.  The Michael Jackson experience was a result of his passionate love for music, for dance, for truth and justice.  It was Michael himself who said that he felt that art was the union of the physical with the spiritual.

Here is a clip of a rehearsal:

Michael truly was an unstoppable force, a talent few have ever seen in the world. When I see or hear the outtakes of his work, I feel a real sense of loss – for what might have been.  Still, we are blessed to have had him trod with us at all.

“Play the music, he cyan’t dead.”

Jah Bless.

P.S. – if you missed it, take a look at Spike Lee’s documentary.

Farewell, Dr. Maya Angelou

Hail Mi Irieites,

As we celebrate the life of Dr. Maya Angelou, we must cherish her strength, her voice, and her commitment to justice.  The news of her death was, in her own words, “expected, but still unwelcome.”

And so it is with all leaders of the Earth. Their passing leaves a hole in the world, one that is never quite filled.

The title of her most famous work -  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings comes from a poem by Paul Dunbar, the son of parents who had known the injustice of slavery:

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings –
I know why the caged bird sings.

It is easy to let the desperate troubles of the world drag us down, but Dr. Angelou is an inspiration for us all to never get weary – doing Jah Work.

Here she is with Malcolm-X in Ghana all those years ago:

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And here are a few quotes from this Queen of the Arts:

  • “I still get excited about any human being speaking or singing.”
  • “There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.”
  • “Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”
  •  “When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness. I’m trying for that. But I’m also trying for the language. I’m trying to see how it can really sound.”
  • “The main thing in one’s own private world is to try to laugh as much as you cry.”
  • “All great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.”
  • “The best candy shop a child can be left alone in is the library.”
  • “I make writing as much a part of my life as I do eating or listening to music.”
  • “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”
  • “If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love.”

We were truly blessed to have had her here fighting for us all.  The caged bird is free at last.  Farewell, and rise!

A Portrait of Malcolm X on his 89th Earthday

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Yes Mi Irieites,

Here it is as promised, a portrait of Malcolm X, finished in time for what would have been his 89th birthday. If you have been following this, I had put up the preliminary sketch Feb 21st 2014 and did promise to have something presentable for this day.

I know I will get a few slagging offs from those who are defensive about this individual, but that is how life rolls sometimes. Just enjoy that I’m enjoying getting into other areas in my leisure time.

“Put away the misconception
That he came to teach us hate
So wake up from your sleep and slumber
Wake up before its too late”

In the meantime, Steel Pulse gives a shout to others born on this day May 19th: Grace Jones and Rohan “The Coffee Man” Marley.

And guess who I shall be painting next…

Bless!

A Tribute to Rubin “Hurricane” Carter (1937-2014)

Hail Mi Irieites,

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Middleweight boxer, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, became quite a controversial figure in the mid-70s thanks to icons like Muhammad Ali and Bob Dylan. Born May 6th 1937 in Clifton New Jersey (a mere 6 weeks before Joe Louis became Heavyweight Champion of the World), Carter, after serving a series of time in Juvenile centres, joined the US army at an early age. It was in the army that he became an active pugilist, going on to turn professional by age 24.

Unfortunately, his career was stopped in its tracks in June 1966, when the authorities wrongfully accused him of a triple murder that took place in a bar in Patterson (not Floyd), New Jersey. And although he was not identified by the survivors of the shooting, a trial took place the following year finding him and a friend that was with him at the time of his arrest, guilty. There he was -sentenced to life imprisonment.

Carter and his supporters contested the sentence over the years. Finally there was light at the end of the tunnel when the judge declared him a free man, in November 1985.

But like l said, it was the likes of Ali and Dylan that brought home to the nation the injustice served on this individual. Carter wrote a book during his incarceration in 1975 titled “The 16th Round.” Dylan read it and wrote a song called “Hurricane,” of which he went on to perform it at the Trenton State Prison; the prison where Carter himself, was “residing.”

In 1999, Denzel Washington starred as Hurricane Carter, a film of the boxer’s journey to freedom from behind bars. By this time Rubin Carter was already living in Canada and, talk about lightening striking twice, he was arrested once again. Only this time he was mistaken for a drug dealer wanted by the authorities. They realised their mistake when they acknowledged that Carter, then aged almost 60, was not in his mid 30’s like the suspect they were looking for.

Once again, I have lucked out on meeting this incredible person. But his quest for survival through the injustice will always stay with me. Rubin went on to be quite an active speaker at many events. He earned himself, among other things, two honorary Doctorates of Law, in 2005. Steel Pulse announced his death yesterday evening while performing to our fans in Vail, Colorado. The “Hurricane” passed after a two-year fight with prostate cancer. He was 76 years old. We share our love and condolences with his friends, families and the supporters that believed in his innocence.