With Mother’s Day just days away, veteran singer Njeri D has released a reggae single called Mama.
The single, which is part of his upcoming album, Look At The Time, was first aired mid-April, on HOTT 95.3 FM by Big Red The DJ and is already getting good rotation on the island’s radio stations as well as many others throughout the region. Earlier this year, the first single of the album, My Father Got This, was released in Jamaica.
The album which will be fully released in the coming months, is the product of a contract the artiste has signed with FE FE Entertainment based in the United States.
“As of the first of May last year, I was signed to FE FE Entertainment, LLC for a recording contract. We’ve been doing an album since then [and] it’s complete. This is the second single that we have released. This one we are doing in time for Mother’s Day,” Njeri told Bajan Vibes in an exclusive interview.
The song is produced by Sepp Herbert and Richard Bourne; recorded at AirBourne Studios in St Joseph; mixed by Sepp Herbert FE FE Studios Syracuse in New York; mastered by Anchor Mastering, Kingston in Jamaica; manufactured by Palm Tree Records; published by Jsepp Publishing Company and FE FE Entertainment LLC is the executive producer.
“I actually got the contract by submitting an R&B tune. But when they heard my reggae the producer said: ‘Why would you want to do R&B?’ You are the smoothest thing I’ve heard outside of Jamaica. We want to do an album.’ The producer is originally from Barbados and has been in New York for over 30 years. He has a rich history in reggae music as he used to tour with a Jamaican reggae band.”
Njeri is best known for his hit song Cease Fire, which he sang with Shakey Ranks. He also received notable recognition for Zouke DEM, which was No.5 on the World Beat Charts (Germany). That song was part of an album featuring Rita Marley, Gloria Estefan and Lucky Dubai. Njeri has sung at the Barbados Reggae Festival shows with artistes such as Third World, Cocoa Tea, Maxi Priest, Beres Hammond and many more.
Having started his musical journey at age 16 with the Royal Barbados Police Force Band, Njeri has over 30 years’ experience in the music industry. Over the years, he has performed on the hotel circuit, cruise ships and with bands such as Solar Energy and Coalishun.
In 1994, a versatile Njeri won the last staging of the Independence Calypso King competition.
“In my career, although my pet love has been reggae and ballads, I’ve done a variety of music because that is the only way you can live, so you go with the flow. The last two years I got a bit frustrated with recording every year, spending money in calypso and not really getting the traction on radio or otherwise. So I took the decision that I was leaving that alone and [would] do what is dear to my heart, which is to do reggae music,” he said.
But Njeri is not at all being selfish with his success. The artist has used his relationship with the US-based music company to help upcoming artists to showcase their talent. Last December, the first ever Reggae Stars finals was staged. The successful series of events started with 62 participants.
“From June I came up with the Reggae Stars idea and I started to formulate it. They [FE FE] became my major sponsor. The winner of that competition, Justice Immortal, has won a one song contract with FE FE LLC.”
There were plans of staging another Reggae Stars competition this year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has caused those plans to change. “The company was very interested in giving us some more support and advice,” Njeri said. He is looking to do the competition again in 2021.
The veteran said a stage like Reggae Stars is needed to preserve the artform and push creativity given that the genre had lost many talented entertainers to soca over the years.
“Because of the environment in Barbados, it has been successful in converting quite a few original reggae artistes into calypso. Kid Site, Lil Rick, Peter Ram, African, Nathalee Burke… there is a whole list of them that were originally hardcore reggae artistes but much was not happening. That is what birthed the idea of Reggae Stars in me. I wanted to create something [for] reggae artistes and not only reggae artistes, [as long as] you are doing it on a reggae riddim, it could be rap, R&B even soca or bashment. I believe you shouldn’t limit creativity.”
He pointed out: “But even in the soca realm it is extremely dated. After Crop Over most of the Bajan artistes that are really doing well are doing well outside of Barbados. I mean in terms of livelihood. The real successful ones are a handful.”
When asked directly where we have gone wrong with the development of music in Barbados, Njeri pointed out some shortcomings in the music sector.
“We have suffered from not having formal institutions, a union or a professional music organisation that has been sustainable in Barbados. Nobody knows your needs better than you yourself. I think we have undone ourselves. It is easy to point fingers at other people but I would think that our detriment to our progress has been our own inadequacies.”
This is what he recommends: “The NCF could help too by seeing this as a 12-month-calendar-of-events, thinking beyond seasonal events like Crop Over and NIFCA. I would also like to see a showcase in Crop Over that is multi-genre. When you have a festival, it is usually associated with all the arts. It is a platform for fashion, artists, and culinary.
“We need to look at the arts from the point of view of intellectual property because we would be recognising creativity. The next big thing can come from anywhere, areas where we least expect it from. We need to open our mind and the opportunities to a wider platform.
“This would allow people to be innovative and this would help to settle the society because there are too many hopeless young people. There are a lot of people with talent, but they don’t see any opportunities. That is one of the main things that inspired me to do Reggae Stars,” the entertainer said.
Njeri’s music can be found on YouTube Njeri D, Facebook Njeri D and Instagram NjeriD2020. (IMC)
Take a listen to Njeri D’s ‘Mama’ here: https://youtu.be/QPZwq28tcdQ
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