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Local singer brings reggae to ‘The Voice’

A local singer wants to bring reggae music back, but he’s taken an unconventional path to becoming a top contestant on NBC’s hit show “The Voice.”

Nineteen-year-old Menlik Zergabachew’s parents immigrated to the United States from Ethiopia in hopes of giving their children a better life in Silver Spring.

“It was really bad over there at the time,” he says. “They hustled, hustled for us.”

Zergabachew attended Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County but then, to his parents’ disappointment, dropped out to pursue a career in music.

“Of course it was hard for them,” he says.

“That’s what they worked for their whole lives. But now, after seeing me work and seeing me on this TV show, they feel safer. They don’t have to worry about what I’m doing.”

He says he can barely remember his blind audition for “The Voice”:

“I really couldn’t tell you what I was thinking. The whole time I wasn’t even paying attention to the words I said. I was just over-analyzing every little thing I did up there. Like, ‘Why are you swinging your arm? Aw, you hit the wrong note!’ Just all up in my head, just messing it up.”

After his performance of Sublime’s “Santeria,” Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani wanted him for their teams. He asked both if they would let him sing reggae.

“Of course! I love reggae!” Stefani said.

“I’ll let you do some damn reggae too!” Shelton said.

Ultimately, he chose Team Stefani but is now on Team Pharrell.

His goal is to take reggae music mainstream.

“I’m really into music that has a really, really deep message,” Zergabachew says.

“Positivity, standing up for what’s right — reggae is all of that. It’s the one thing I can listen to for days on end. I want to see all great reggae bands all over the radio. You never hear that anymore. You hear rock, you hear pop, but you don’t hear reggae everywhere. That’s the ultimate goal. It would be cool to be the biggest reggae band around.”

The Good, The Bad & The Ofay: A History of White Musicians Playing Reggae

Canadian band Magic! had a smash hit and viral sensation this year with their single “Rude.” Its melody and lyrics are pure pop but it’s music and title reference a genre with origins in a far sunnier climate, Jamaican reggae. They are far from the first white musicians to experiment with reggae’s offbeat rhythms and seductive grooves. Since the late 1960’s, some of music’s biggest acts have tried their hand at the style with varying degrees of musical (and chart) success.

Reggae evolved from previous indigenous Jamaican musical styles, slowing down the pulsing rhythms of early ‘60s ska, turning up the bass and often dealing with the spiritual themes of the Rastafarian religious movement. Under the guidance of superstar Bob Marley, it went global and made inroads into popular music, especially in the United Kingdom with its large Jamaican population. Its atypical rhythmic reliance on the offbeat and subtle instrumental complexity is one of the trickier musical idioms to master, especially for white rock n’ roll musicians who tend to play flat out. Many have tried, usually when using it more as an influence than a template, and many more have failed. Let’s stroll down musical memory lane and see which musicians have tried their hand at reggae “riddims” and see how they did.

read more at VH1

Victor Essiet Brings ‘Africa Meets Reggae World Music Festival’ To Nigeria

In a bid to celebrate and bring back the renaissance of Africa Reggae Music, Legendary Reggae Art, Victor Essiet has brought to the forefront “Africa Meets Reggae International Music Festival” which is billed to be held at the Prestigious Hockey Stadium in Surulere, November 29th 2014

Definitely, all roads will lead to the Prestigious Hockey Stadium in Surulere as the first international festival of this brand debuting this year in the country of Nigeria. The festival will be held in Lagos State; showcasing the top names in Reggae and World music.

Amazingly, the Festival headliners are some of the most talented pioneers of poetic Reggae Stars an Legends, Majek Fashek, Raskimono, Orit SDamian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley and Stephen Marley, Victor Essiet and The Mandators, King Sunny Ade, and top international artistes.

Africa Meets Reggae has been an annual musical event hosted by Echodelic Music and Dub Club in Los Angeles the past four years and now it will be hosted in Nigeria for the first time by Mystic Records USA / Nigeria (Victor Essiet The Mandators “the Godfather of African Reggae”) and AWD / Brand Believers based in Nigeria in conjunction with Tom Chasteen (Echodelic Music / Dub Club) and Russell Gerlach (Foundation Artists) from the USA. All are bringing this concept to an international stage with production offices established in Los Angeles, CA, USA and Lagos, Nigeria.

Reggae music is a powerful instrument of change and since Victor Essiet’s time in America over the last decade, the message and music has greatly faded. Victor Essiet (The Mandators) has returned to Nigeria in recent years and one of his missions is to re-establish Reggae music and its message to prominence in Nigeria and the whole of Africa

This festival will give Reggae and world music new exposure and awareness to music fans worldwide. Come celebrate Reggae and World Music with the Living Legends of today.

Jamaica’s ‘Reggae Girlz’ Near World Cup Thanks to $200,000 Crowdfunding Save

What do Bob Marley, crowdfunding and next summer’s Women’s World Cup have in common?

Jamaica’s “Reggae Girlz” national soccer team and one of the coolest — and most overlooked — stories currently going on in sports.

Back in April, we told you about how the Reggae Girlz’ biggest obstacle in qualifying for the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada may not be having the requisite on-pitch skill, tenacity and togetherness to make it. No, it may be a lack of funding.

Without some serious donations to help pay for training, travel and accommodations, the team wouldn’t have had nearly enough money to cover its expenses during its qualifying campaign, Garth-Anthony Savoury, the Jamaica Football Federation’s director of marketing, told Mashable in April.

That’s why Cedella Marley — an activist, entrepreneur and daughter of Bob Marley — stepped in to help lead an online crowdfunding drive aiming to raise money for the Reggae Girlz in their quest to make their first World Cup. As Marley sees it, a lack of Title IX legislation in Jamaica, soccer being seen as a male sport there and an overall limited pool of athletic funding means the Reggae Girlz get left behind. The Reggae Boyz, the country’s men’s national team, does not face the same challenges.

Marley thinks the impact of this lack of opportunity goes well beyond soccer for women and girls in Jamaica.

“This has hindered the development of the program which is a shame because many young women have been able to receive scholarships to college based on their athletic ability,” Marley told Mashable in an email when the effort got underway this spring. “That education empowers not only them but our nation as a whole.”

The story has a happy ending though — at least for now. The Reggae Girlz finished second in a Caribbean tournament recently to qualify for the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship that starts next week. (CONCACAF is the regional soccer confederation to which North American, Central American and Caribbean teams belong.)

While the Reggae Girlz were taking care of business on the pitch, their fans, random supporters, Cedella and the House of Marley company took care of business on the Internet. Cedella helped spread the word, the House of Marley company matched many donations and contributions poured in from the U.S., Russia, Australia and beyond.

Overall, more than $200,000 has been raised via crowdfunding campaigns on GoFundMe and Indiegogo. According to a public relations representative for the team, that’s covered them so far and will help get them through the CONCACAF tournament that starts next week and is hosted by the U.S.
More help might be needed

But this story isn’t necessarily over. If the Reggae Girlz finish in the top three teams at this month’s CONCACAF tournament, they make the World Cup in 2015. If they finish fourth in the eight-team field, they play South America’s fourth-place team for a berth in the World Cup.

And therein lies the rub — the money raised so far has combined with the Reggae Girlz’ play to get them this far. But should the team make history by qualifying for the World Cup, it’d be a bittersweet achievement. Making the World Cup would bring on a whole new round of training, preparation and travel, all of which requires more money.

While a team representative says the squad hopes to attract a corporate sponsor or two should it qualify for the World Cup, it could still have a funding gap to cover. If no corporate sponsors step up, the gap will be even harder to bridge.

As we noted back in April though, the Reggae Girlz wouldn’t be the first Jamaican team to use the Internet’s compassionate crowdfunding to boost them to their sport’s highest stage. Earlier this year, the Jamaican bobsled team made it to the Winter Olympics in Russia partially thanks to Reddit, dogecoin and online donations from around the world.

But first, the Reggae Girlz must perform well at this month’s CONCACAF Women’s Championship. That much, at least, is up to them.