by Blakka Ellis (Jamaica Observer)
As a lover of reggae, and as a Jamaican in Canada, I’m very interested in what’s happening with the music here, there and everywhere. And I like to feel like I know what’s happening; but do I?
There are many others, but from my casual observation I know that artistes like Steel, Exco Levi, Comfort, Tasha T, Ammoye, Eyesus and the powerful veteran Jay Douglas are undoubtedly among the top Canadian reggae acts in Toronto.
Of course, one of the things all these artistes and many of the others around Toronto have in common is a strong link to Jamaica as their place of origin and centre of influence. But hear mi nuh friends, I recently got introduced to a range of other reggae acts from other parts of Canada. And it was mind-boggling.
Reggae is definitely bigger than, and no longer exclusively owned by Jamaica and Jamaican immigrants in the Diaspora. How many of you ever heard of a group called Makeshift Innocence’? They’re from Calgary, Alberta. Their music is genuine reggae and it’s awesome! Yeah man, di ting proppa!
Their song entitled Yours To Keep is among the JUNO nominees for ‘Best Reggae Recording’ for 2012. I also got to listen to some other outstanding reggae recordings by artistes like Tristin Channel, also from Calgary, and groups like Third Branch and the Soulicitors from Edmonton, and even a 10-piece ska band from Newfoundland called Idlers.
OK, so what did I learn? Nuff tings! Chiefly though, I learned that Arts and entertainment in Canada is about a whole heap more than just what currently goes down in the greater Toronto area! And this lickle island called Jamaica certainly doesn’t have a monopoly on the production of high quality, authentic reggae music. Maybe we once did, but not anymore. Those were the thoughts left echoing loudly in my head at the end of an engaging, entertaining and enlightening chat I had with the vivacious Carrie Mullings few days ago.
Yeah, it’s Carrie I have to thank for opening my head and eyes to a whole new world of Canadian reggae. She’s very active in the business and is an admired Toronto-based on-air-radio personality. A presenter at CHRY 105.5 FM for over a decade, she hosts the very popular Rebel Vibes programme every Monday from 10 a.m. to noon.
She’s recognised as an ambassador of reggae music and is a major supporter of Canadian reggae artistes and their music. Although born and raised in Canada, and although her programme focuses mainly on Canadian reggae, Carrie’s also passionate about her Jamaican heritage. Her late father was Karl Mullings, an influential artiste manager, promoter and consultant who was a chief pioneer behind the vibrant Jamaica to Canada musical buzz, which characterised much of the 70s through to the late 90s.
Like me, Carrie Mullings knows, and proudly embraces the fact that the potent cultural force called reggae was born in Jamaica. Like Carrie though, I’m now more acutely aware that reggae has definitely outgrown the island. What do you think?