Here’s a little musical interlude, from a Jamaican band that I am remarkably fond of. They are called No-Maddz and, in my opinion, they are one of the very few genuinely original and interesting bands on this island. They have just released a great little song called simply “Romance,” produced by the famous rhythm duo, Sly and Robbie. Here it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4F5Tp-eRaI
No-Maddz are all awardees of Jamaica’s Prime Minister’s Youth Award in the field of Arts and Culture. They are also the only competitors to win a perfect score in the annual Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) performing arts festival. They infuse plenty of drama (and humor) into their music. It’s a natural Jamaican eccentricity and wit that I really enjoy. They can also get a serious message across, when they want to. They are never formulaic or derivative, as I find many young Jamaican musicians are at the moment – although naturally they have their reggae, rock and other influences. They call their eclectic style “Bongo Music.”
And importantly – they are versatile, a quality hard to find these days. They are very Jamaican, but their lead singer can also play a nifty rock guitar, and they have soulful voices, too. This struck me when I saw them in concert in Kingston last year – a show called “Breadfruit is the New Bread, Baby,” which was later taken to the Carifesta XI regional arts festival in Suriname.
A bit more about No-Maddz: They got together in 2000 at high school – the well-known Kingston College – as a dub poetry group. They performed and participated in the Puma global ad campaign with Usain Bolt – for the Faas running shoes – with their song “Rise Above Profanity.” Their first album, “The Trod,” was recorded live at Finnigan’s Winery in Kingston. In 2012 they produced an EP called “Sort Out Yuh Life Jamaica” to coincide with the country’s fiftieth anniversary of Independence.
I mentioned the drama… Well, two members of the band, Sheldon Shepherd and Everaldo “Evie” Creary, appeared in Jamaican filmmaker Storm Saulter’s “Better Mus’ Come.” As the lead male in the film, Shepherd (whose father is an actor) won a Best Actor Award at the 2012 American Black Film Festival.
But let me tell you something: No-Maddz are not only refreshingly talented young men. They are also really “good people,” as my dear departed grandmother used to say, with an approving nod of her head. They have supported Eve for Life (the non-governmental organization that empowers and supports teen/young mothers living with HIV/AIDS and their children) on more than one occasion, without making any fuss about it. Special, special thanks to dear Sheldon Shepherd!
I’m not good at posting videos on my blog, so here is the link to this delightful song from YouTube, which reminds me of those old “lovers rock” songs. I can just imagine Gregory Isaacs singing this one in his cool, laconic style… Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4F5Tp-eRaI
In an interview in the Jamaica Observer this year, Sheldon Shepherd shared his philosophy of life: “Never take yourself too seriously.” Good, good advice!