Category Archives: Music

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

malcolmbydavid

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,

carterboxing

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.

Remembering Marvin: 30 Years After

Hail Mi Irieites,

Though still out of action, I just had to take a few moment to think of Marvin Gaye, struck down 30 years ago today. I was fortunate to have seen him many years ago back in England at the American Embassy. It was not long after that he made his comeback hit, “Sexual Healing.” Not many acts can get a second chance of success, but Marvin certainly did ’til the tragedy happened.

His biography, Divided Soul - was a real eye-opener. I read it the moment it came out. While studying it, one could clearly see that he was destined to be killed by his father. As a matter of fact the gun that killed him was actually a Christmas present he had given to his father, Marvin Senior. An epic tragedy on every level.

May his children continue to be proud of the songs this man has produced for mankind.

More here >>

Apologies to You, Our Fans

Hail Mi Irieites,
profile2david

Please accept my humble apologies for not continuing with this Midwest tour. The sickness I have contracted became too overbearing to sustain the remaining days.

Ever since the first date, I’ve been fighting a fever during the night right up to show time only to find that the condition had made my vocal chords inflamed, therefore unable to perform with any accuracy. On top of that I had a complete loss of appetite, ultimately sapping my strength. Nevertheless, I was willing enough to at least make a presentation each night despite my setback, not wanting to let you, our fans, down.

Unfortunately, the whole thing got the better of me and now has forced us to “throw in the towel.” To our loyal fans, especially those that have been waiting anxiously and have travelled hundreds of miles cross country to be part of our event; we hope that you can bear with us until I get back on the mend to serve you in the way that you know we do best. I thank those that have supported us at the events that we had managed to get by on (Telluride, Aspen, Boulder and Denver). Your cheers and high morale were terrific and uplifting to our spirit. We hope to give you something a bit more special next time round.

Once again, my sincere apologies…

David Dread

R.I.P. Philip Smart

Hail Mi Irieites,

psmart

A special tribute to one of the pioneers of reggae from the NY region; Philip Smart, engineer, producer, mentor and recording studio owner, out in Freeport Long Island.

Sad to say that Philip passed on peacefully, last week after a long bout of cancer. One of our last recordings at Philip’s studio was the backing tracks to “Put your Hoodies On,” a song dedicated to the murdered teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Many acts have gathered a momentum of success having worked at Philip Smart’s. Acts including: Shaggy, Sister Carol and more.

Philip, I’m sure that you will be proud to know the positive response our song has been getting on youtube since it’s release. With heartfelt condolences we come together in celebration of the life and legacy. One should have been named Philip “Smiles,”too for that beam of happiness always on your face.

Blessed King..

Celebration of his life starts today, March 8th between 12pm and 4.00pm.

VIDEO: Trayvon Martin: Put Your Hoodies On [2 Year Anniversary]

Yes Mi Irieites,

Here we are on the two year anniversary of the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. Martin’s parents are still fighting courageously for justice – in this unsafe climate created by the unjust “Stand Your Ground” law.  Steel Pulse issues this video on the second anniversary of the slaying of Trayvon as a plea for justice for all mankind:

We will never forget. Forward ever.