Not having the chance to update Music Historian’s Hear; Don’t Listen for the month of June is completely inexcusable on my part. Although I have not published anything in a while, I have not placed writing thoughtful articles about musicians and their work on the back-burner. In fact, I have been exploring a few exciting and riveting genres – hip-hop, reggae, and calypso. While I knew about these genres, learning and was very new for me; and I want to share my new experiences with all my readers.
I have interviewed the following artists, Tarrus Riley, Da Famous Boyzz and The Mighty Sparrow for the newspaper, and the weekly voice of the Caribbean American community, New York Carib News. While I applied the same interview techniques for these articles as I did in my previous ones for Music Historian; each of these interviews took me to several new musical territories, almost like a vacation. So, here is a review of my trip so far.
First Stop: Jamaican Jazz and Reggae
My trip starts with a stop at Monty Alexander‘s Birthday Bash, which took place in the Merkin Concert Hall of the Kaufman Center on June 6th. Here, the Jamaican music icon celebrated Jamaica’s 50th year of independence with noted Reggae singer, Tarrus Riley. This event also marked Monty’s birthday and his 50 years in the music business.
That night’s performance was a union of canonical jazz from Monty and pop-infused reggae from Riley. My coverage of this event is a union of a concert review and an interview with Tarrus Riley – a rare opportunity I just had to take. Please feel free to read it right here,
“People of my age and in the music business continue to represent Jamaica, and those that paved the way for us as young musicians.” – Tarrus Riley
Second Stop: Atlanta Hip-Hop comes to New York City
On June 10th, just days after The Monty Alexander Birthday Bash, I arranged an interview with a young Atlanta-based hip-hop group, Da Famous Boyzz. I learned a little bit about hip-hop in Atlanta from these group of well-spoken and well-mannered young men. In Atlanta, for example, various artists join one another in collaboration during performances, whereas in New York City, everyone is expected to be a solo artist. Further, in Atlanta’s musical scene, hip-hop groups usually perform as main acts for an event. Meanwhile, in New York, artists will usually perform as part of a line-up.
The interview I had with Da Famous Boyzz focuses more on their debut album, “Private House Party” and everything that brought them to where they are now in their career. Please have a read:
“The most important element in old school hip-hop is having fun; partying; and having people get along with each other.” – David Bishop, Da Famous Boyzz
Final Stop: Trinidadian Calypso with The Mighty Sparrow
Just last Friday, I was able to arrange a telephone interview with the king of Calypso music, The Mighty Sparrow. This opportunity was nothing short of amazing, because it is very rare that you sit down with someone who: firstly, has a rich story as a performer that spans over decades and various locations; and secondly, is more than happy to melodically recite to you any song he has ever sung and written.
The editors at New York Carib News decided to divide my interview article on The Mighty Sparrow into 2 parts. In the first of this article, I talk talk to The Mighty Sparrow about his beginnings as an artist. In the second part, I ask him more abotu how Calypso music is an agent of social change. Please have a read:
“Calypso is the mouthpiece of the underprivileged…and the Calypsonian…is like a newspaper reporter.” – The Mighty Sparrow.
“Songs can remind listeners in tough situations that…positive change comes through positive action.”
More vacations on the way?
So, that is it for my June vacation. While I plan to have more exciting interviews with Caribbean musicians on behalf of my employer, I also hope to get an interview with more bands from the indie music scene as well. In the meantime, what ever interview I publish that I feel is appropriate for Music Historian, I will post.