Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Kenyatta Hill, the True Musical Son


When you listen to the album, ‘Live On: Tribute to Culture’ by the son of the legendary Jamaican reggae outfit’s front man Joseph ‘Culture’ Hill you realise how a true musical son he is to his father.
I really do not know if his situation can be compared to the other sons that took over from their fathers, like the Black Missionaries back home, for example, but in the case of Kenyatta Hill one would really be tempted to believe what is written on the website called http://www.fastlaneintl.com/khill_live_on.htm  that his career began the day his father’s ended.
Kenyatta’s dad, Joseph, who was the front man and songwriter for the Jamaican vocal trio, Culture. He collapsed and died while on a 2006 tour of Europe. The website notes that to the amazement of promoters, fans and critics alike, Kenyatta stepped onstage and delivered electrifying performances time and again - nineteen shows in all - until the tour was complete. And this was unheard of in any genre of music at any time, it states.
“Kenyatta gave of himself so totally – as his father had for so many years – that the two seemed to become one, the eerily similar voices and the vibes igniting the critics and yielding a new reggae mantra ‘magic, not tragic!’” the website reports.
As if what he displayed with the remaining shows of his father was not enough, at the Ranny Williams Centre in Kingston, Jamaica, at the memorial concert for Joseph, the website states that Kenyatta’s performance with Culture was the highlight in the star-studded night and garnered him the rousing applause of the hard-to-please Kingston reggae audience. It further notes that Kenyatta went on to front Culture in a series of performances in the US, Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina and Peru, again leaving audiences amazed and delighted.
The coming on the scene by the young Hill is said to be influenced by elements of dancehall grounded in the roots tradition and motivated to carry on his father’s work. Kenyatta set to writing, finishing songs that Joseph had started and creating new music of his own.
“On his poignant debut single, “Daddy”, (Tafari Records) backed by a masterful roster of musicians, including Sly Dunbar and Dean Fraser, and produced by Lynford “Fatta” Marshall, he confronted the emotional pain and uncertainty he felt after the loss of his father. He cried while he wrote, just as audiences in Europe had cried while he sang,” the website states.
I am getting all that the website wrote because it truly expresses what I wanted to say about Kenyatta having listened to his album this week. The website marks ‘Pass the Torch’ as the complete CD having “a collector’s item feel” which was released in 2007 to long-time Culture fans and critics who have embraced the son, named after Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of Kenya.
“With its very lovely and high level vibe Kenyatta Hill’s first CD prompted one long-time Culture fan to proclaim, ‘Culture is ALIVE’,” states the website matter-of-factly.
The website says indeed Culture, featuring Kenyatta, continues to share the wisdom of Joseph’s conscious reggae, overlaid with Kenyatta’s own lively and youthful musical vision. Kenyatta toured in support of ‘Pass the Torch’ with a number of festival appearances throughout 2009 as well as a highly successful US tour with Beres Hammond in 2009 and 2010.
It was after these tours that in 2011 he released ‘Live On’, a highly-acclaimed tribute to the music of Joseph Hill and Culture with Kenyatta performing fresh renditions of some of their classic compositions. 2011 also saw Kenyatta Hill on tour with a hot new band and expands his musical horizons beyond his formidable roots.
Of course, the father is always the father, but listening to ‘Live On’ one cannot help it but realise that indeed the father, Joseph Hill, is still alive in the son, Kenyatta Hill.
One big question back home would then be: is it the same with the living sons? Is Robert Fumulani still alive in the persons of Anjiru and Chizondi?

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