Rastafari has always been a great influence on Jamaican music. Especially in the seventies when roots reggae reached it's peak with singers like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear and Dennis Brown amongst others. In the eighties slackness and gunlyrics took over, but in nineties the influence of Rastafari could be heard again in the songs of artists like Garnett Silk, Tony Rebel, Capleton, Buju Banton, Luciano and Sizzla, who are responsible for a new category in Jamaican dancehall music, the new roots.
One of the upcoming artists in the new roots style is Taffari. Born as Boris Anthony Silvera in the district Bagnol Spring in the Parish of St. Mary on March 8, 1971 he grew up in the countryside of Jamaica before moving to Kingston at the age of 16. "Music has always been my greatest interest from birth", Taffari says, "But from the age of 14 I realised that I could make a career as a musicman and from that time I started to take the music serious." Like many other Jamaican artists Taffari was a regular visitor of dancehall sessions and he used to go to sounds like I-Jah Lick Force and Classic One and started to sing utilizing the name Singing Bird.
His first tune, 'Nice Girl', was recorded in 1988 and was a combination between him and a singer named Lanny, who was also the producer of the tune. The both of them grew up together in St. Mary. In 1990/91 Singing Bird voiced a remake of Millie Small's 'My Boy Lollipop' for producer Phillip 'Fattis' Burrell, owner of the Xterminator label through a link with one of his friends named Brokie. The tune was recorded by Syl Gordon at Gussie Clarke's Music Works studio. After voicing for 'Fattis' Singing Bird recorded for a few other producers like Mikey Magic, Impact from New York, Super Blaster and policeman Isiah Laing, but some of these tunes were never released.
After voicing these tunes Taffari decided to take a break to concentrate on writing new songs. In 1997 he linked back with Syl Gordon who in the meantime built his own studio at Molynes Road and started producing for his 321 Strong label. Still using the name Singing Bird, he voiced the song 'Take I Away (Eastern Side)' on a remake of Dennis Brown's 'Tribulation' riddim. Whilst starting to record an album for 321 Strong Singing Bird changed his name to Taffari. "Singing Bird was more for the girls, Taffari deals with serious message tunes", as he explains. By now Taffari voiced tunes for the legendary engineer Cedrica 'Soljie' Hammilton, Firehouse Crew, the New York based J&D, Mighty Music, Ovadoze Productions, Roaring Lion and Chris Records.|
Taffari lived in Kingston in areas like Tivoli Gardens and Seaview Gardens, both notorious for their political violence and regarded as rough areas. "In these areas it was very easy to go the bad way", Taffari tells, "But I was never born as a bad youth, so Jah helped me to hold the faith and make me realise my musical career."
At the end of the nineties and heading for the next millennium Taffari got involved in the foundation of the "AL.TA.FA.AN" label. "It all started when Anthony "AL" Graham got a rythm from Soljie," Anthony Senior recalls. "He had it for awhile doing nothing when Taffari and I told him to come together and start a label for ourselves. We were going to name the label "TOGETHERNESS BROTHERS", but found out that there was a label by that name already. So we sat awhile thinking about a name when I came up with AL.TA.FA.AN. I took the first letters of our names and formed it into one name, AL- (Anthony AL Graham) TA- (Taffari) FA- (Fabian) AN- (Anthony Senior). Fabian was once an engineer at the studio whom we had a great relationship with so we got him involved, but he was not interested in the project, but unity is strength and he is a young youth so we tried to get him involve anyway."
Anthony Senior continues... "The project took a long time because we were not financially stable. Anyway, Pinchers heard the riddim and fell in love with it and gave us a tune entitled "Heart Of Stone". The same was with Mikey General who recorded "Love Chant" over the riddim. When we were blessed with the tune from them it still took a time because we wanted some harmony on the Taffari tune but couln't pay for it. When Al Graham asked Dean Fraser for his service, which he gave us with kindness, there our first set of tunes on the AL.TA.FA.AN label came to reality. Taffari gave the riddim name "STEPPING STONE" which I think blends nicely with the vibes of the riddim. Al asked Fat Eyes for their service in distributing the records in which they agreed, but wasn't fair on the sales of the records so we ended up without benefitting. But as they say you cannot be brave if only wonderful things happen to you. Because of the bad deal with Fat Eyes we didn't have any money to make another riddim for the next set of AL.TA.FA.AN tunes when Soljie was once again to the rescue. Taffari had voiced a tune for him a couple years back which we asked him for. He didn't hesitate in giving it to us but we could only put out that one tune which we didn't mind since it gives the singer a unique vibes, because all the other riddims had a lot of artiste on them. There our second AL.TA.FA.AN tune materialized. We are now planning on building some live riddim for we think it has a better feel to it and would like the singer to hit the international audience."
Altough they would surely like to put out a Taffari album on the AL.TA.FA.AN label, they are not firm financially. However, they hope that any company that puts out Taffari's album will include some AL.TA.FA.AN tune on it. So fans of Taffari and modern roots reggae have to be patient, but regarding the works he has delivered so far it will be only a matter of time before his debut album will be available for the reggae massive.
|Selective discography of singles :
|Danny Pepperseed, Teacher & Mr. T, 30-01-2001|
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