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NASIO FONTAINE

Nasio hails from Dominica, the product of two cultures - African, via his father and Carib Indian, via his mother - the mix of both probably contributing to his spiritual sensibilities as revealed in his lyrics. Sixteen years ago Nasio relocated to St. Maarten on the invitation of his siblings who had moved there. At first reluctant, because "growing up, [Dominica] was a really roots country to me," says Fontaine, the move to St. Maarten proved to be fated for, when he settled there, he realized there was a "music inside of me that really want to come off, so going to St. Maarten was a good thing . . . it was a really good decision."

Nasio has been writing and playing reggae music since 1981, and by 1986 felt he was ready to go into the studio, when he recorded his first 12-inch. Since then, he recorded his first album in 1990, which was released in the Caribbean. I was fortunate enough to be in Dominica in the fall of 1994, where I was introduced to Nasio's music - I heard it blasting via passing car cassette players, in clubs, record stores, etc. I bought a cassette [which was his third album] and when I returned to New York, spread the word about the enchanting sounds of Nasio that I had heard in Dominica and made copies of my tape for associates. All the time wondering why such a brilliant ambassador for reggae music was not yet heard in the U.S.


Asked why it took so long for him to get to America, Nasio responds: "We recorded our first 12-inch single in 1986 and just circulated it around the Caribbean; then in 1990, we did another recording . . . which the music is good . . . we had fans . . . we had a following . . . but no promotion, we had no management. . . . Well, in 1991, we went to Jamaica and recorded a album . . . and in 1994, we released it, and still, no management. People a tell we the music soun' good, but we have no han' fe help us. So we came to New York an' we happen to meet Lenny Shillingford [a Dominican] of Rocket Studios." The meeting was a success and Nasio felt that Shillingford was the right person to work with. Nasio sums it up this way: "The time it took [to get to New York] was really worth it. For we suffer inna the ghetto and it bring more out of us . . . it give us time to write more music . . . so I think the time . . . we don't look at it like 'it's so long and it never work,' . . . I look at it like right now is the time, cause is a spiritual vibe we a deal wid still." Very well said.


Nasio emphasizes that he is no politician, but through reggae music he gets to "express myself . . . tell the system, which is the shitstem, how me really feel about what slavery really left behind." He points to No Babylon, one of his favorite tracks on his Reggae Power album which delivers his beliefs poignantly: No Babylon, you cyan hold Jah Jah children down, no more, . . . We are not stupid, everybody knows right from wrong. We are the scars . . . Your slavery left behind . . . Rewrite History if you have to . . . Truth is truth . . . and it just can't change . . . Do you think you could-a . . . Bound us in a mental chain . . . No Babylon.


Of his performance in New York Nasio says: "If you coming to perform in New York, you really have to be strong. The first show is so important . . . . If you only have half an hour on a show, you really have to burn it and let people see 'Yow, this guy has something to say!' If you don't do that, you really can't play New York anymore. It's like dem say, 'if you can do it in New York, you can do it anywhere.'" So, where does Nasio go from here? There are plans for shows in Paris, Korea, Japan . . . and other venues. And in the meantime, Nasio advises " . . . just let Peace and Love flow . . . the solution to the whole problem on earth is Rasta!"
Patricia Boothe Everybody's Magazine, May 1996


BROTHER MATTHEW LUKE

INCENSE MAN RELEASES "MY TRIBE"

With unsurpassed energy, a basket balanced on his head, a calabash of burning incense in one hand, the Incense Man danced his way unto the stage. His deep tones rang out and the crowd roared. The voice, the showmanship, the color was all there as Brother Matthew Luke, the famous griot, delighted a youthful and old time crowd, in a rare local stage appearance.

Gone are the days when the people gathered around him in numbers on the streets of Roseau to hear his vibrant poems and melodious chants while performing a quick stepped dance or acting out a social drama, stopping now and again to sell his incense. He was a folk hero in troubled times. His chants encouraged the people to take heart, stay positive, move forward in their own way. The people called him a modern day Griot. He had the power and style to articulate a collective vision and he sparked a creative culture.

Everybody missed him when he decided to retreat to his mountain rainforest home and to the stage. With the success of his albums "Here Comes The Dub Poet", and "Live in Concert" Brother Matthew Luke was called on frequently as a speaker, performer and artisan to represent Dominica in Cultural Festivals and Reggae Concerts in the Caribbean, Canada, U.S.A and South America.

Click here for 'Mix we mixin', an audio clip of the album,My Tribe (426KB)

He has staged his own shows and opened the show for Internationally known artists and bands. Matthew performs in two Cable TV documentaries about Dominica. His latest release, MY TRIBE, is featured on the soundtrack of "Landmarks: Caribbean," a BBC education series. Matthew's performance on MY TRIBE is enlightening. It features a smooth blend, the rhythm of poetry with the rhythm of rockin reggae. A chance for us again to hear and experience our well known Griot. So whether on the street, on stage, or on C.D., The Incense Man, one of Dominica's favorite orators and sons creates a legacy which endures.



 

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