Jah9 & Mellow Mood special guest Paolo DubFiles
Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 8pm
- all ages
Deeply mystical, Jah9 has emerged from a chrysalis of poetry, dub and spirit to become a powerful femiNINE energy within a universal grassroots movement of consciousness. Inspired by the open spaces in the instrumental dub of 1970’s Jamaican roots music, Jah9 sings with a voice that belies the dimensions of her physical body, from a soul much older than its current vessel; “reminiscent of that darkly operatic wailer for truth & justice, Nina Simone.” Her philosophy–profoundly spiritual, and her style–Jazz on Dub.
Born Janine Cunningham, Jah9 spent her first 9 years in Falmouth, Trelawny, on the rural western edge of Jamaica before moving into the city of Kingston, in 1991. Transplanted in the city, this country girl, used to the idyllic Falmouth where everyone knew everyone else, was suddenly struck by chaos disguised as order in Jamaica’s capital. Highly sensitive to her surroundings, she ventured inward and found an outlet for her feelings in the words that she wrote.
Growing up in a conscious family with a preacher for a father and a social worker for a mother, Janine had always been aware of the injustices in the world. However, it was not until she was on campus at the University of the West Indies that she would embark on a pivotal journey to find her true voice. At UWI, she would gather with a group of fellow socially conscious and Rastafari brethren by a fire to steam herbs and reason for long hours. There her heart was opened to the teachings of Haile Selassie I and her ears to the hypnotic bass of the heavy dub rhythms of roots reggae. Janine eventually embraced her childhood nickname, Jah9, as she learnt the significance of the word “Jah” and the number “9”.
A staple on Jamaica’s underground poetry scene by 2009, in instrumental dub she found a place where her words could live, and the songs she started to write found eager encouragement. Jah9 began recording with renowned keyboardist and flautist Sheldon Bernard and her demos caught the attention of the legendary Beres Hammond, who then began helping to develop her recording technique. She later teamed up with popular producer Donovan Bennett of Don Corleon Records and released her first 2 singles in late 2010.
Her focus and determination eventually culminated in the release of her debut album entitled “New Name”, an homage to her personal spiritual journey produced by pioneer dancehall selector and roots producer Rory ‘Stone Love’ Gilligan. Voted album of the year by AchisReggae.com, “New Name” has been described as “quite simply, the superb sum of its parts: a straight cultural roots album” by United Reggae’s Angus Taylor.
Since 2013, Jah9 has performed on the main stage with her band ‘The Dub Treatment’ at most major European and US reggae festivals. Described as “black magic” and “possessing a chilling yet bewitching vibrato evoking a young Ella Fitzgerald and a rootsy coolness à la Erykah Badu” her dub-filled live performances elevate consciousness and invoke a spiritual reawakening.
Jah9, a certified yoga instructor trained in Kemetic, Ashtanga and Iyengar methods, has been known to compel her audiences during her live set to pause, breathe deeply and feel empowered. She opens minds and soaks them in knowledge and positivity. As a way to intimately engage with her fan base, Jah9 also curates an organic rhythm-based yoga experience she calls ‘Yoga on Dub’. Jah9 is rooted in her African heritage and driven to serve. In 2015, while on tour in Italy and Malta she was intent on engaging with African refugees, sharing with them insight on the new environment they would face, natural wellness as well as yoga/breathing as healing therapy.
Jah9’s words are a reflection of the life she has constructed. Considered a nation builder and community activist, she has been heavily involved in youth development work. She has helped develop programs for at-risk youth in Kingston, worked on the creation of “Healing of the Nation” public awareness campaign and been at the core of the creation of the non-profit youth and arts advocacy group known as Manifesto JA in 2005.
In 2016, the Universal year of 9 [2+0+1+6], Jah9 has established for herself a foundation as a formidable lyricist and revolutionary force; and now shifts her energies to unveiling a deeper more personal deployment of her ‘Jazz on Dub’ sound. Empowered by her femiNINE – that which is found in the symbolism of 9, the symbol of creation and womb of the universe – Jah9 is set to release her sophomore album divinely-entitled ‘9’.
Italian reggae band Mellow Mood was born in Pordenone in 2005 but officially debuted in 2009 with their first record, entitled “Move!”. Produced by Paolo Baldini, who was later to become their sound architect, the album was intended to be their first “Move” on the international reggae scene: totally self-released, it was an unexpected success and the two singles “Only You” and “Dance Inna Babylon” got a total of more than ten million views on YouTube.
Their heartfelt live shows led Rototom Sunsplash to name Mellow Mood best Italian reggae band, ranked third at European level. Two years of intensive touring and artistic growth followed. After a slight line-up change, Mellow Mood went back into the studio with Baldini to record “Well Well Well”, published in May 2012 by Italy’s most important independent label, La Tempesta. Ranging from roots-reggae to rocksteady, to tribal clubbing, “Well Well Well” is intense and elegant, and showcases the progression of Mellow Mood, as they proved to be among the protagonists of a new generation of reggae artists coming from all over the planet. The tour following the album release led the band to 12 European countries, where they performed at the most important festivals like Rototom Sunsplash, Sziget Festival and Sumol Summer Festival.
Over the second half of 2013 the two singles “Dig Dig Dig” and “Extra Love” were released (the latter features reggae legend Tanya Stephens), as a preview of the band’s development. Their latest album, entitled “Twinz” is released in June 2014. It is once again produced by Paolo Baldini, has a streamlined line-up, prestigious international collaborations and couples the rediscovery of roots music with a deeper knowledge of the newest jamaican sounds.
Less than one year later, “Twinz” reveals its twin: “2 The World”, once again published by La Tempesta, bears witness to the creative growth of the band and is enriched by national (Forelock, Andrew I) and Jamaican collaborations (Tanya Stephens, Jah9, Hempress Sativa, Gideon & Selah). The title aims at both underlining the international calling of the band and the work team gravitating around Baldini’s studio, as well as showing how the Italian scene (artists and the general public together) is now ready to find its place on the reggae global landscape.