We are here in Peru tonight, 16th May 2013. This is a tribute night for UK radio DJ, John Peel who died right here 8 years ago.
For those unfamiliar with John Peel, he was the Radio 1 DJ who played a major role in breaking British Reggae to the public. It was at a time when reggae was very much shunned from national radio and got little to no exposure in any of the music advertising media that was out there.
John found a loop hole in the system whereas there was a limitation to the amount of airplay reggae was to get, it did not out rule the idea of having the music performed live on the radio. So British reggae upon went live – with versions of the studio songs that Radio 1 were refusing to play.
John, this is to let you know that your efforts will never be forgotten. The restrictions and barriers on our music was going on far too long. You had the courage and ingenuity to out-think your employers at RADIO 1. For that we remain grateful, always.
I’m sad to announce that Cedric Brooks, of the legendary Skatalites band, passed away last Friday, 3rd May 2013. He was 70 years of age. Before he joined the Skatalites, Brooks was renowned for his work with Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari and the Light of Saba. He began his music career in the late 1960s as a studio musician, playing on Burning Spear’s “Door Peep.”
Our condolences to the only surviving band member, Lester Sterling and also Cedric’s sisters and seven children.
More information on the brilliant Cedric Brooks here >>
A great “Big Up” to Willie Nelson, who turns 80 years old today and still is in better shape than his guitar. Willie, wherever you are right now, you have a heck of a lot to be proud of..
Being born during the years of the Dust Bowl, you have certainly made a change to the lives of the croppers. May your years continue to be prosperous and your heart be as concerned as ever. ‘Cause there is one thing that we Steel Pulse, the farmers and YOU all have in common, and that is: “THE ROOTS” yah!
As you know by now, Richie Havens passed away yesterday on Earth Day.
I had the good fortune to see him live for the first time at a club in Birmingham called Barbarellas. I must have been about 19 years old at the time.
Years later, Steel Pulse went on to be on an opening billing with him in D.C., in the early 80s. To this day I have yet to see anyone strum the acoustic guitar with the energy he had. Richie, you will never be forgotten!!
This is of special interest. Today, April 4th 2013, marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Here are a few excerpts from his last speech, given the day before he was killed in Memphis, Tennessee [full speech >>
Recently, in the United Nations General Assembly, we sang a song in honor of Dr. King. We all still have much to learn. Here are just a few select quotes that stand out as beacons in a world of injustice:
“A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: ‘This is not just.’”
“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death”.
“I have not urged a mechanical fusion of the civil rights and peace movements. There are people who have come to see the moral imperative of equality, but who cannot yet see the moral imperative of world brotherhood. I would like to see the fervor of the civil-rights movement imbued into the peace movement to instill it with greater strength. And I believe everyone has a duty to be in both the civil-rights and peace movements. But for those who presently choose but one, I would hope they will finally come to see the moral roots common to both.”
Here’s a video of the proceedings at the United Nations on March 22nd. Steel Pulse joined the various guests as part of the Commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. On the video, we come on at the 1:16:31 mark, for about 18 minutes, and then for the finale - at 2:07:44 – where we join Marcus Miller and the rest of the celebrants to perform Bob Marley‘s Get Up, Stand Up.
Steel Pulse was truly honored to be a part of this special occasion. Here’s an interview I did with UN Radio.
This week the United Nations is honoring the victims of the transatlantic slave trade. On the 22nd, Steel Pulse will be performing as part of this tribute in the General Assembly Hall, United Nations, New York. UN Foundation Girl Up Champion Monique Coleman will host the event featuring performers from Africa, the Caribbean and the United States:
Cameroon National Ballet
UNESCO Artist for Peace Marcus Miller
Speakers at the concert include:
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Ms. Shorna-Kay Richards, Chargé d’Affaires a.i., Deputy Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations and Chair of the Permanent Memorial Committee
Mr. Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information
This year is particularly important, with many key anniversaries in the fight against slavery – including 220 years since France’s General Emancipation decree liberated all slaves in present-day Haiti; 180 years since the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 ended slavery in Canada, the British West Indies and the Cape of Good Hope; and 170 years ago, the Indian Slavery Act of 1843 was signed. Slavery was also abolished 165 years ago in France; 160 years ago in Argentina; 150 years ago in the Dutch colonies; and 125 years ago in Brazil.
2013 is also the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States, which declared that, on 1 January 1863, all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.
The Door of No Return (lyrics) from African Holocaust was perhaps our best tribute to the tragic legacy of slavery:
For those who are unaware, slavery continues in this time.
Here are some links to overstand what’s happening, and how you can get involved:
Just a quick one before my day runs out. Today, March 14th 2013, the legendary Quincy Jones, turns 80.
Quincy Jones has had several decades of success in the entertainment business is a man who I could honestly say, had the “Midas touch.” Virtually everything that he had a hand in turned to gold. But in my opinion the most noted for me is the production he displayed on the “Thriller” album of Michael Jackson, which has now surpassed 110,000,000 copies world wide.
I was fortunate to have read the autobiography of Quincy Jones and it was no easy road for him. However, there was something about the city of Seattle that brought out a unique calibre of musicians. The world has been already familiar with the likes of Hendrix and Ray Charles. Just like Ray, it would be a treasure for the likes of Spike Lee, Spielberg, or whoever, to bring to life the tale of Mr Jones on a large screen.
In the meantime, Quincy – have a prosperous day, week, month, year and even another decade or two. Thanks for your duty to the world!!