Playlist: Best Reggae of 2017
*Live performance photos courtesy of Michael Daley. Press photos courtesy of Randy Richards. Album artwork courtesy of Taj Francis. Full list of album credits on Mario Evon’s Bandcamp page.
“What is love?” asks Mario Evon on his debut full-length LP album, Reggae-Soul Vol. 1: M.E. On Love, that tells a classic “boy-meets-girl” love story. As Evon embarks on a romantic journey of his own, you can’t help but join him on this emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. Filled with heart-felt, genuine lyrics, each song expresses Evon’s experience during different stages of a relationship.
*All photos courtesy of and provided by Awa
If you already didn’t know, reggae is immensely popular in New Zealand. The genre was popularized as far back as the 1970s and 1980s by bands such as Herbs and Unity Pacific. In 1979, Bob Marley’s legendary concert, at the country’s Western Springs Stadium, had a tremendous influence on many artists to form their own bands; many believed it was the catalyst for the spread of the genre. Additionally, some of the island’s Maori people gravitated towards the Rastafarian religion that also contributed to the rise of reggae in New Zealand.
Today, one of the most prominent artists to hit the scene is Awa (a former member of the band Nesian Mystik). Now as a solo artist, his signature sound that blends romantic reggae and soulful R&B has captivated New Zealand’s listeners. His debut EP, Native Intel (2011), earned him three Maori Music Awards for Best Maori Songwriter, Best Song and Best Maori Male Artist. Two years later, Awa’s follow up album, Heartbeat (2013), broke the Top 10 New Zealand Album Chart for his hits “Home”, “Perfect Day” (featuring Hawaii’s Anuhea) and “Back In My Life” (featuring New Zealand’s House of Shem). Now in 2014, this double platinum artist continues to pen more hit songs, especially on collaborations with CRSB and Pieter T. Recently, we caught up with Awa to talk about his career, upcoming concert and latest single.
*All photos courtesy of and provided by Andre Fennell
Shaggy, Damian Marley, Diddy, Chris Brown and Beyonce are just some of the few international superstars that Andre “GC” Fennell has penned hit songs for. Now in 2014, this six-time Grammy nominated songwriter has emerged as a solo artist with his powerful and poignant debut single, “Fight For You”, that’s producing major buzz in the music scene. Fennell’s ability to fuse reggae, hip-hop and R&B creates a smooth, sensual sound all his own. Not only is he launching his solo career, but he is also fronting a new band called “17”; their first single and music video, “Child of the City”, will be directed by Hollywood director, Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Planet Terror, Machete). We got a chance to chat with Andre about his new music, life as a songwriter and much more.
*All Photos Courtesy of Niko Browne (Lifeline Music) & Romain Virgo
Check out Romain Virgo’s smooth reggae cover of Sam Smith’s, one-night-stand anthem, “Stay With Me”. Niko Browne, of Lifeline Music (Jamaica), both produced the track and directed the music video. Virgo’s superb vocal abilities mixed with Browne’s incredible production skills create an excellent cover. Browne also produced many of the songs from Romain’s sophomore album The System (2012) (VP Records).
*All photos courtesy of and provided by Eddie “Joe Coffee” Williams
Most people do not associate reggae music with Australia. With New Zealand being in such close proximity to the country, it did not surprise us that reggae’s popularity has gained strength in Australia as well (as you have learned in our previous articles reggae is extremely popular in New Zealand). The newest artist to make waves in the Polynesian scene is Eddie “Joe Coffee” Williams. This Australian lover’s rock crooner serenades his listeners with his smooth R&B vocals and romantic lyrics. His bright melodies and uplifting rhythms evoke emotions of elation and relaxation that can alleviate anyone’s anxieties. His latest hits “Why Would You Do That”, “No One” and “For You” have all gathered thousands of YouTube views. Recently, we had the pleasure to interview Joe Coffee to discuss the Polynesian reggae movement, his songwriting process, musical influences and much more!
*All photos courtesy of Conkarah and used with permission.
Who says artists should only hire one producer for their album? If there were a strict rule for that, Conkarah would be a true rebel. On his new EP album, Conkarah To The World, Conkarah embodies the theme of “reggae around the world” to the fullest by collaborating with producers from the United Kingdom, Mexico, USA, Austria, Germany, Australia, India, Poland, France, Indonesia and Jamaica.
Conkarah tells us, “for my new EP album, I wanted to showcase how reggae music has spread worldwide and I’m very proud of the outcome. Each of the producers got to showcase their work and add their own unique flavor to their own riddim for each song. Even though this was all done online, I just love how it has all come together.”
*All photos courtesy of and provided by Tennille Amor
International reggae superstar, Shaggy, sure knows excellent artists when he hears them. His most recent find, Tennille Amor, is no exception and she’s been working hard on her debut album “EVOLVE through LOVE”. Her latest single, ‘Lion,’ is a conscious roots reggae song that shares the powerful message of staying strong in difficult times. It sounds very different from Tennille’s first single and music video, “Not the One” (produced by Shaggy), which is an empowering anthem about women standing up for themselves under pressure. Her sweet, smooth vocal style appeals to a broad audience and her album’s lyrics of love resonate with everyone. Similar to Shaggy, Tennille is also a generous philanthropist. She heads up her own charity foundation that drills clean water wells in Tanzania, which also inspires much of her music’s lyrics. We got a chance to chat with Tennille about her upcoming album, working with Shaggy, her own charity and much more!
*All photos courtesy of and provided by Golden Chyld
After the success with his previous single, “Joanna Wine”, Canadian-born reggae artist, Golden Chyld, returns with his follow up single “Rise Up”.
This up-tempo, drum-driven reggae anthem flows with conscious lyrics that urges social action. “The single ‘Rise Up’ was one of the core messages I wanted to convey to people for 2014. Irrespective of what you’re going through, rising against all odds and doing your part to make society a better place is always one of the most lasting impacts you can make. That’s what I want to do with my music: leave a lasting impact on fans and society,” Golden Chyld tells us.
What do you think of “Rise Up”? Comment below!