|As you can guess, I'm a reggae music lover. What drives me the most in this music is the beat and the fight against oppression. Must say that my love for nature take the center spot in my life. I've been a vegetarian for the past seventeen years. These are probably the three aspects that best define my personality. My favorite area in reggae is the roots and dub music from the mid seventies to the late seventies. Always felt sad about the direction that Jamaican music took over the years. I have visit several Caribbean islands: St. Lucia, Dominica, St. Kitts, Nevis, Martinique, Barbados, Cuba, San Andres & Providencia. All of my trips have brought me wonderful memories, but one island stands out for me: St. Lucia: for it's luxurious rainforest and the various hikes it has to offers. And maybe also because it was my first contact with the Caribbean. Dominica is very similar to St. Lucia in term of vegetation. Another nice place I'd like to share is the small 'reggae' town of Porto Viejo, in Costa Rica. This country is a paradise for nature lovers. One of the greatest experience that life has brought me to tune in with nature was in summer 1994, when I was hired by foresting company in High Level, Alberta, for reforesting my country. In three months, I planted over 50,000 threes. That was probably the hardest job that I had so far, but the most valuable accomplishment. Three months to sleep in my tent, in total wilderness!
In 2006, I had a boyfriend that was born in Kenya and he had relatives living in Ethiopia. So I had the opportunity to realized one of my dearest dream: to visit Africa. For two weeks, we went on a road trip in a van that brought us in the South. Ethiopia is focussing on eco-tourism, with 15 national parks. We visited several of them, my favorite being Nechisar National Park. Another highlight of the trip was our stay at Wondo Genet, 45 minutes South-East of Shashemene. If you whish to visit Ethiopia, do not hesitate one minute. You can do a similar trip by contacting the several Ethiopian Travelling Agencies located in Addis Ababa, which can be found on Internet. In 2011, I made a second trip to Africa, this time I became a volunteer teaching in a school in rural Ghana. Again that was one of the most significant experience I've been through, but being a vegetarian became quite a challenge. It may seems that cash is not a problem for me, when you read about my experiences, but it's more that I adapted my lifestyle to the most basic way of living, in a small apartment, not focusing on material things and saving up all year long for that special two-week trip to eclipse myself from the long and harsh canadian winter. One of the smartest move that I made was to kick the television out of my apartment in 1998. There is enough brainwashing in society, you don't need it in your home.
Being gay, I feel lucky that I was born in Montreal, a city that allows me to evolve in respectful environment. My various trips made me realize how much we must be thankful for this kind of freedom. I thank the people who have fought hard for the situation we can now enjoy. Being so much in tune with nature, my fights were always connected with environmental issues. The greatest battle I have committed myself to was against Genetically Engineered food in 1999/2000. But the rebel in me felt deeply concerned about homophobia in dancehall music, which I came to notice in 2002, when I was fully exposed to the culture, as I lived in Barbados for several months. The Murder Inna Dancehall website was a project that I had in mind for several years and finally saw the day in August 2006. I first hesitate to link it to my main page as, obviously, I would face some opposition, but than told myself that the one who don't feel comfortable will simply go somewhere else.
Some of the things that I would like to see change in reggae in the following years: roots reggae would be back in force, being able to separate dancehall in specific clubs and reggae in other clubs, as those are two distinct music and it would be nicer if we could have our specific evenings. It bothers me that recent roots artists focus too much of the religious aspect of their message, making you feel that you must believe the same way if you want to connect to their music. Bob Marley, Third World, U Roy, Peter Tosh, Horace Andy, Culture and Burning Spear, to name a few, were all followers of the rasta faith, but you don't feel that they are imposing their values on you when you listen to their music. For example, Morgan Heritage, which I consider to be one of the best roots artist that came out of Jamaica in years, I cannot fully tune in with a portion of their songs for that matter. Why the new generation of reggae singers don't know how to mesure out their music? Don't get me wrong, the singers have the rights to sing about what ever their heart desire, but I'd like to see this message go behond religious boundaries and become universal. I think this would help roots reggae to break it big again. I specially dislike the "burn this, burn that" negative philosophy. Instead of destroying, why don't you build instead? I would like to see more variety in the music, isn't there tons of things to talk about? Another topic: why does reggae concerts has to start at midnight? Some of us work the day after plus the public transportation is close after those concerts, insiting people to possibly drive their cars with reduce faculties or adding to the cost of the evening by obligating us to take a cab on the way home. Am I the only one thinking like this? Why when I go to the Montreal Reggae Festival there ain't strictly Ital and vegetarian stands, I don't like my veggie paties being cook in the same oil as the meat paties? And why is it that the thousand of plastic glasses used at the festival are not recycled?
My favorite contemporary reggae artist is Tiken Jah Fakoly. Like Bob Marley's message, I can fully associate myself with his claims for justice. His Francafrique (2002) and Coup de geule (2004) albums were both produced by Tyrone Downie, the keyboard player of The Wailers, recorded at Tuff Gong studio and backed by Sly, Robbie, Earl 'China' Smith and Tyrone. There are a few songs in English, but most of them are in French or in Dioula (African dialect). From my point of view, these are his two best albums, but they aren't available for the International market. The company that distribute his music decided to make a compilation with those two albums simply named Tiken Jah Fakoly. But the other albums that were released after are available. The language barrier shouldn't be an issue: I suggest that you put them on your "want list".
And whenever I make one of these magic evenings with roots music spinning on my sound system, I hope you can catch the vibz, from wherever you are.
And as a good friend said in a reggae riddim:
Translation: In the forest, when tree branches quarrel, their roots embrace"
My I suggest this wonderful french book fill with 365 African pictures and thoughts. Several pictures are from Ethiopia.
Origines (by Danielle & Olivier Döllmi)
Edition de la Martinière
The english version seems to be
African Wisdom 365 Days (ISBN-10: 0500543119)