England’s Wicked Reggae Band: Our Interview with XOVA

XOVA Logo*All photos courtesy of and provided by XOVA  

It’s no surprise that the United Kingdom (UK) produces some of the best reggae music. After all, Jamaica was a British colony prior to the island’s independence in 1962 and since then, many Caribbean people have migrated back to England as well. With the large Caribbean population, it was inevitable for reggae to be reborn in the UK. If you’ve ever been England, you’ll discover that reggae is extremely popular. Birmingham, England, in particular, has produced some of reggae’s greatest bands including Steel Pulse, UB40 and now … XOVA.

This multicultural, Birmingham sextet mixes a variety of musical genres including funk, rock, pop and jazz with a strong reggae backbone. Their groovy melodies, smooth vocals and heavy rhythms support the bright brass section that colors each song with character. XOVA’s veteran band members are no strangers to the music scene with some playing for Pato Banton, Michael Jackson, Sting and Beres Hammond (just to name a few). Their music videos for “9 Lives”, “Just Wanna Be Famous” and “Knife Crime City” have helped earn them over 44,000 views on their YouTube channel (and they’re just getting started). Recently, we chatted with XOVA about their story, sound, upcoming album and much more.

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A ‘Sweet Kiss’ from Hawaii: Our Interview with Rebecca Beralas

*Photos courtesy of and provided by Rebecca Beralas 

Hawaii’s Rebecca Beralas’ has certainly come a long way. From her early days in elementary school, humming her favorite songs, to her later days in her adult years, leading underground reggae bands, Rebecca Beralas has finally released her debut EP album as a solo artist. This incredibly gifted songstress showcases her strong, yet soothing vocals with lyrics that touch on love, empowerment, struggle and self-reflection. Rebecca’s signature sound fuses lovers rock reggae, dub, R&B, pop, island and soul that brings joy to everyone’s ears with her uplifting array of original romantic ballads. Strongly influenced by both Hawaiian and Jamaican reggae, Beralas’ music truly brings positive vibrations from both islands with the power to evoke the happiest memories of your life. With a powerful EP, we cannot wait to hear her full length LP! We recently sat down with Rebecca to discuss her upcoming album, Hawaiian reggae, future live shows and much more.

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Bob Marley Around The World: Celebrate His 70th Anniversary With The Playing For Change Band

*Photos Courtesy of Various Sources

Today, The Honorable Robert Nesta Marley officially celebrates his 70th Anniversary.  Despite his passing in 1981, he is more popular than ever.  Marley’s compilation album, Legend (1984), is the  most successful reggae album of all time and continues to sell tens of millions of copies worldwide.  The King of Reggae helped popularize the genre across the globe from the United States to Japan (and everywhere in between).

In honor of his 70th anniversary, we decided to show you how much Bob Marley has influenced musicians around the world with The Playing For Change (PFC) Band.  The PFC Foundation is a non-profit organization that helps raise money to build music and art schools for children across the planet.  The PFC Band, comprises of the world’s best musicians, to record classic songs that resonate with all audiences.  In addition to their albums, they also tour extensively around the world to raise money for their noble cause.  The PFC Band loves reggae as much as we do, especially Bob Marley!  Take a look at the PFC Band playing his hits like “One Love”, “Three Little Birds” and more.  You may see some familiar faces in the videos too!  Happy 70th Birthday Bob! 

“Redemption Song” featuring Stephen Marley

“Words of Wonder/Get Up, Stand Up” featuring Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones

“War/No More Trouble” featuring Bono of U2

“One Love”

“Three Little Birds”

The 2015 Grammy Nominations for Best Reggae Album Announced!

*Photos: Various sources including Grammy, Reggae Sumfest and more

Last night, the Recording Academy celebrated the 57th Annual Grammy Award Nominations by hosting “A Very GRAMMY Christmas” concert on CBS. Hosted by hip-hop icon, LL Cool J, the night was filled with delightful performances by Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams, Mary J. Blige, Sam Smith and more.  Although no reggae artists performed, the academy announced the official nominations for “Best Reggae Album” yesterday. And the nominees are (drumroll please) …

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2014’s Most Requested Riddim: The Uptown Julie Riddim (FME Recordings)

*Photos: Various sources

Greetings everyone!  The holiday season has officially begun and like Santa, we’ve been getting lots of special requests for music.  During these past few months, no other riddim has received as many requests as The Uptown Julie Riddim (2014 FME Recordings).

Why is this riddim so popular?  According to our fans, they love the fusion of urban dancehall rhythms, uplifting reggae melodies and soothing pop strings that remind them of summer.  The Uptown Julie Riddim features Ricky Blaze, Zoelah, Gyptian and Kes the Band on four hot tracks:

Ricky Blaze “All I Need”

Zoelah “Sell Off”

Gyptian “Stunta”

Kes The Band “Endless Summer”

The riddim’s producer, Ricky Blaze, describes the making of the Uptown Julie Riddim in this interview video.  Also, be sure to watch the riddim’s two music videos – Gyptian’s “Stunta” and Kes the Band’s “Endless Summer”.  Finally, listen to the full riddim mix by Dr. Bean Soundz.   

How do you like the Uptown Julie Riddim?  Comment below! 

Making of the Uptown Julie Riddim

Gyptian “Stunta” (Official Music Video)

Kes The Band “Endless Summer” (Official Music Video)

The Uptown Julie Riddim Mix by Dr. Bean Soundz

   

New Zealand’s Romantic Reggae Star: Our Interview with Awa

*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.

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Grammy Nominated Songwriter Emerges As Solo Artist: Our Interview with Andre “GC” Fennell

*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.

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Bob Marley Musical Celebrates 70th Anniversary: The Jamaica Musical Theatre Company Presents “Nesta’s Rock” Coming 2015!

*Photos:  Various Sources

What’s your favorite Bob ‘Nesta’ Marley song? “One Love”, “Three Little Birds”, “No Woman, No Cry” are all reggae classics and synonymous with Jamaican music. Tourists who visit the country look forward to hearing those tunes on the beach to enhance their island experience. Should they arrive next year January to February 2015, tourists can also enjoy their favorite Marley numbers live in theater!

That’s right, a Marley musical! The Bob Marley Group of Companies has partnered with the Jamaica Musical Theatre Company’s (JMTC) to present the JMTC’s upcoming original children’s musical production, Nesta’s Rock. Not only is the musical inspired by his childhood, but Nesta’s Rock also marks and celebrates the 70th Anniversary of the late king of reggae on February 6, 2015. The musical will create new renditions of Marley’s most popular singles, such as “Trench Town Rock”, “Redemption Song”, “Could You Be Loved” and many others.

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The Summer’s Hottest Compilation: Our Album Review of VP Records’ Reggae Gold 2014

*Photos: Various Sources including VP Records

In addition to their 35th Anniversary, VP Records has released their highly-anticipated, annual compilation, Reggae Gold 2014.  As their most successful compilation to date, Reggae Gold consistently tops the Billboard and iTunes Reggae Charts.  The album comprises of the hottest radio anthems of the summer. 

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VP Records Celebrates Their 35th Anniversary

*Photos Courtesy of VP Records

Powerhouse reggae music label, VP Records, recently celebrated their 35th Anniversary this past July at the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York City.  The company created visually stunning pop-up exhibition to commemorate this special milestone.  It featured a photo exhibit by Ajamu Myrie that displayed Jamaican reggae culture, a map emphasizing reggae’s popularity on every continent and a photo timeline showcasing each musical era in Jamaica.  The label’s founder Patricia Chin unveiled a short documentary (narrated by Sirius XM’s reggae DJ Pat McKay) that illustrated VP Records’ contribution to the evolution of Jamaican music over the years.      

The Reggae Around the World Team congratulates the VP Records family on their impressive anniversary and we wish them the best for the future.  Here’s to another 35 years! 

VP 35th Anniversary Exhibit at the Grace Jerk Fest 2014

The VP Records Story Documentary