Jamaica Observer: KINGSTON, Ja – Veteran songwriter Sangie Davis believes that because Jamaica’s music does not hold sway with international record companies, musicians have strayed from their roots.
“Di youths dem find out now sey when dem talk about His Majesty an’ dem carry dem songs deh to big companies, big companies not taking it up…Di whole music scene change. Most songs not dealing with any culture right now; is just seeing if dem [musicians] can make a lot of money. So, di music change from lyrics to beat — a beat a run di place right now,” Davis told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
His Majesty refers to Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia who reigned from 1930 to 1974. Born Lij Tafari Makonnen, his address to the United Nations General Assembly in 1963 inspired Bob Marley’s militant War.
Marley also made reference to Selassie in his song One Drop when he sang: ‘ Give us the teachings of His Majesty‘. Marley died in 1981 of cancer.
Selassie, who would have turned 128 today, is revered by the Rastafarian community as a messianic figure. He died on 27 August 1975 at age 83 following a coup d’état in Ethiopia.
Davis, 77, feels cultural music with its spiritual undertones can assist in reducing crime and violence in Jamaica.
“One time di violence did a hold down like when ‘Gong’ [one of Marley’s nicknames] dem did deh ’bout…But since di ting bruk out, everything a advertise with naked girl, naked man…morality gone out. A righteousness haffi deal with it,” he said.
Davis does not believe all is lost, as reggae still has a few standard-bearers.
“Yuh find seh a lot a young generation come up and still revere His Majesty because [of the principle di elders set over time…One a dem cultural lyrics wi come thru ’cause yuh caan stop di culture, because di culture is people livity,” he said.
“It must come back because di culture a di reality of di situation. A concentrated effort have to come from di disc jockeys who play music…to bring back di righteousness and see how much you can save people soul.”