From my earliest days I knew I was a Man of Destiny. I knew that Yah had a deeper calling for I than I playing ' in the fields with my brothering an ' sisteren. An' the call was to lift my people upon the mountain with Yah music an’ to lift our spirits from disharmony in the Valley of Dry Bones towards One Love in the Realm of Yehovah.
Childhood in the Southern Cotton Fields
I was born one of eleven brothering and sisteren on a small plantation in Mississippi. My parents were Afro' American-Native American, my father a sharecropper and my mother was a healer practicing root medicine and she was a Christian. Through her eyes I learned the stories of the Bible and the ways of the Path of Righteousness.
working in the fields when I was about six. For a few years my dad let
me go to Nigertown School, in the winter months, when there was little
work to do on the plantation, I probably got a year of primary school
in all. In fact, my school was in the fields. When I was fifteen, me and
my cousin, who was also a child farm worker, ran away from the slavery
of the plantation (I think few in the North realize that even in the 5O's
and 60's "slavery" still really existed in the South.).
to San Francisco in the -early 70's and found myself in North Beach at
that historical time when Afro Cuban music was booming. Inspired, I began
to play and joined musicians such as Armando Para, Francisco Aguabella,
and Santana. With these teachers I soon became known as a Master in Cuban
Otis "ObeyYah" White
Turning to Jah and to Reggae
In the mid 70's Reggae came into my life through a Jamaican Brother name Rashon. He showed me this new flavor of music, and revealed its messages and its Rastafarian Culture. Reggae won me over when he told me its guiding message: "People must be Free and Chant down the Walls of Babylon". This music vibrated with my work life, with my coming out of the slavery of the South. When I listened to Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Bunny Waiter singing songs like "Africa Must Be Free, delivering the message that Black African People must wake up and take charge of their destinies, I realized these songs were opening up doors that would never again close!
Evolution of a New Musical Style, "Mississippi Delta Reggae"
the 8O's and early 90's I began songwriting and I see now that I was developing
my own individual style.
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it "skank, skank" for the rhythm is Reggae, and my lyrics, which
are really poetry, are inspired by the messages of Bob Marley and Peter
Tosh, and by Yah, and the messages of the Bible.
Birth of Obeyjah Roots Reggae Band
Back in California in 1995-961 formed my own band and this was the birth of Obeyjah ("Obeyjah" is to obey God). I developed a repertoire that was all my music. And for the first time after 25 years as a musician-a percussionist and drummer, I began to sing, and I became the lead singer of my band!
“To Jamaica to Record "Let Yah Rise"
December "97 I went to Jamaica, and to Trench town in Kingston and
at Bob and Rita Marley's Tuff Gong Studio I recorded my first CD "
Let Yah Yah Rise" with some of Jamaica's most renown musicians to
back me up.
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