Giving the poor a voice, from Jamaica to Africa
REGGAE, while originating in Jamaica in the early 1960s, has a strong presence in Africa. With vast similarities and connections between the people of Jamaica and Africa, it follows that the music would speak to both.
African Reggae, released by Putumayo World Music, is a collection of songs that captures the spirit of reggae across cultures on the continent.
Mo’Kalamity (Monica Tavares) with her band The Wizards, is one of the artists featured on the album. Tavares was born in Cape Verde and grew up in France. She particularly likes to explore the reggae and soul of Jamaica from the 1960s and 1970s.
Many of her songs speak about social issues and ideals.
She writes about the things that happen around her, the experiences of people she meets. “I write about human beings,” says the softly spoken, modest artist.
Her song Vision, which is included on African Reggae, is taken from Warriors of Light, her debut solo album released in 2006.
Vision deals with the ironies of the human condition and the spiritual isolation that occurs even when you are surrounded by other people.
Lyrics like “we all need human heat, we only need a little something” capture the essence of her music.
“Music has the power to give comfort to people,” she says, adding that reggae music and rhythm give a voice to the poor especially.
Mo’Kalamity began her career as a backing singer for French reggae artist King Malik. In 2002 she went solo and decided to focus on delivering a message of tolerance and love to fans, while exposing some of the negative aspects of society, especially selfishness and indifference.
Throughout her career, she says, she has been inspired by many other musicians, but specifically the styles of the 1970s.
She later teamed up with a few musicians from Caribbean reggae band Exode and formed her own backing band, The Wizards. So far, she has performed mainly in Europe and Africa, but hopes to one day have the opportunity to play in Jamaica.
Apart from doing a few shows around Paris, her time is now devoted to working on a second album with friends and other musicians. She writes and composes the songs, then works with the musicians to perfect them.
This album’s message and style will be similar to that of the first, and some of the songs will deal with women, young girls and communication.
She hopes, she says with a laugh, “it will be even better” than Warriors of Light. “I hope the fans enjoy my music. I hope I can give them a good thing for their souls and minds. Music is a beautiful gift for Jah,” she says.
Other artists featured on Putumayo’s African Reggae album are Ismael Isaac with Magno Mako, Bingui Jaa Jammy with Congo Natty, Zoro with Jabulani and Nino Galissa with Krebo Cheo.
Mo’Kalamity hopes that her offering on African Reggae and any future albums she releases will be “a nice gift” for the people of the world.
● See www.youtube.com/ watch?v=0aqTOErScsQ, or www. putumayo.com