The kitchen staff.

        Upon entering the tranquil WorldBeat Center (WBC), the tempting aroma of cooked onions made my mouth water. Stopping for a minute, I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. Pleasing the stomach and soul simultaneously with food and reggae makes for the perfect evening, especially if Chef Makeda Cheatum is running the kitchen. In 1971, she opened The Prophet, San Diego's first vegetarian eatery. The recipe for the curry vegetable bowl they were serving up dates back to dawn of The Prophet. I am not sure which was more tantalizing - the food or their eye-popping display of world artifacts.



Dash Eye from The Tribe of Kings.

        With both taste and sight quenched it was up to Dash Eye from The Tribe of Kings to charm the audience with an earful of roots and dancehall. He also played the beats for Soul Medic from Northern California and Jah Works from Hawaii. No matter how great their lyrics, when last I checked, singing along to a skipping CD is commonly referred to as dive bar karaoke. Canned music may support the singer, but not harmony.



Kush.

Jah Oil.


Binghi James.

Kush.

        San Diego's own Kush & BloodFiyah Angels put on an incredible set. Kush looked very comfortable with his shoes off, dancing around the stage and filling the space with a blissful essence. This was my first opportunity to catch a full set by these guys and each member contributes their own unique musical vibe. Binghi James was so at one with his kette drum that he appeared to be in the grasp of a music-induced coma. Through closed eyes and lucid body movements he won the crowd over with his soulfully presence. You could not only hear the rhythm of his drum, but feel his energy with each of his simple and gentle body movements. The band works very well together and it showed in the great performance they gave.



Ihkaba.

        DJ Carlos Culture stepped up to the tables and shared his insightful tunes and energy, while the lively crowd at the WBC patiently awaited performances by both Ihkaba and Dezarie. Ihkaba took the stage with grace and style. His deep voice both inspired and invigorated the crowd. Each note rolled off his tongue smoother than a cool breeze on a hot summer day. He definitely showed San Diego and those who traveled from Los Angeles that he was there for one reason- to make the people groove. His voice was strong, soothing and majestic but at about 11:30pm the crowd became restless; the children in attendance fought back the droop of their eyelids waiting for Dezarie to perform.

         What a great night for St. Croix musicians to gather and share their talent with the sold out crowd. According to Makeda, "St. Croix music is the music that is being heard. Roots music is shifting over to the Virgin Islands, and The WorldBeat Center is riding the wave of the St. Croix Explosion. The owners of Reggae World, Rose and Zulu "Red" were the forerunners of bringing us this wonderful music."

Vaughn and Ron Benjamin, the leads of the band Midnite from St. Croix, are responsible for discovering, producing, signing, and recording Dezarie who is also from St. Croix. The island's musicians are being recognized for single handedly bringing roots back to reggae.



Kids.

         The crowd consisted of tie-tied babies and vintage hippies all coming together to rejoice in this musical revolution. Everyone seemed so peaceful and at home at the WBC. As I stood alone during the intermission, a pleasant soul by the name of Ish Spencer struck up a conversation. He had an infectious grin, blonde dreads, a goatee, and gentle, warm eyes. He and about sixteen friends from Los Angeles, Laguna Beach, and San Diego gathered to see Dezarie. We shared stories about beautiful Costa Rica, ant-eaters, and sloths, as well as the resort he and his partner started in Mal Pais. (Check out www.oceantravelers.com to learn more.) A comment he made about the WBC struck me, "In here you feel like you're somewhere else, not like you are in San Diego. You could be anywhere in the world you want to be."

While gazing through the center, Ish's insight replayed in my head. His first impression of the WBC captured Makeda's vision. Her goal is to welcome everyone that comes through the door and make them feel at home, no matter where their home may be.
         Finally around 12:30am Dezarie graced the stage. A mother whispers to her seven year-old daughter, "This is what you have been waiting for, are you excited?" The girl of looked up with a huge grin and innocent, sparkling eyes and exclaims, "Yes, there she is!"



Dezarie with Band.


Dezarie.

Dezarie.


Dezarie.

         Her majestic presence commanded the type of attention generally reserved for royalty. A flowing floor length skirt accented her beauty and prestige, her face gleaming under the lights. Through the microphone came a voice more sculpted than the lips that produced it. The mystical lyrics transfixed the audience in such a way that standing still was not an option. The beautiful words that escaped her soul left an imprint in the hearts of those present. Her voice is the most defined I have yet to hear from a female roots reggae artist. Dezarie is destined to soar to the top of the charts and make a huge impact in this musical revolution.

Text & Photos : Kimberly Parker (April 2005)
(Please do not reproduce without permission).




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