Home To My Roots
Burning Spear
October 11, 2004

Label Burning Music/Nocturne/I-Sound
Format DVD - Region Free
Languages English
Subtitles None
Length Approx. 76 minutes
Producer/Director Mark Engels
Once in a great while, an artist emerges that has a profound effect on popular culture. Grammy Award-winning reggae pioneer Burning Spear is such an artist. A certifiable legend, Spear is celebrating 35 years in the music business and shows no sign of slowing down. His concerts regularly last over two hours, a live show that delivers more energy and vibrancy than many rock and roll bands that are half his age. Spear, who has been featured in Vanity Fair’s music issue, generates excitement from his message as well as his music.

Carrying the torch for the gospel of Marcus Garvey, Burning Spear is one of the single greatest proponents of self-determination and self-reliance for all African descendants, but his message is not exclusively based on the teachings of Garvey. Through his music, Burning Spear has consistently been able to educate, inform, and uplift people the world over with his positive message based on honesty, peace, and love.

Growing up in the parish of St Ann’s Jamaica, the same musical hotbed that produced Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear made his first recording of “Door Peep” in 1969 for the esteemed Studio One label. In fact, it was Bob Marley himself that referred Winston Rodney to Studio One. Shortly before the release of “Door Peep”, Rodney chose to release the recording under the name Burning Spear, a reference to Jomo Kenyatta, a political activist who championed for a free and democratic Kenya and went on to become the country’s first president after being charged and jailed for the Mau Mau insurrection.

As Spear recalls, “The way the whole thing came about is that I found myself moving along up in the hills of St. Ann’s and I ran into Bob [Marley] at the same time. And Bob was going to his farm. The man was moving with a donkey and some buckets and a fork, and cutlass and plants. We just reason man-to-man and I-man say wherein I would like to get involved in the music business. And Bob say, ‘All right, just check Studio One.’”

While at Studio One, Burning Spear recorded his first two classic albums, Burning Spear and Rocking Time. Building on this solid foundation, Spear went on to record for Island Records in the 70’s, releasing three albums (Marcus Garvey, Man in the Hills, and Garvey’s Ghost) that not only reshaped the face of reggae music, but also saw the emergence of Burning Spear as an international artist whose artistic vision began to permeate popular culture around the world. He followed these up with the release of Hail H.I.M. for EMI and set the stage for a prolific string of releases through the 80’s and 90’s, including the Grammy winning Calling Rastafari, as well as Rasta Business, The World Should Know, Fittest of the Fittest, and more.

In 2002, Burning Spear, along with his wife and partner Sonia Rodney, embarked on a new journey with the launch of Burning Spear Records. The label has released, Live At Montreaux Jazz Festival 2001 and the 2003 Grammy-nominated studio release Free Man. An extensive U.S. tour celebrating Spear’s 59th Earthday is set for June through September, with highlights including major summer festivals such as Bonnaroo Music Fest, Bumpershoot, and Central Park Summerstage. Spear will preview new songs on the tour, including tracks to be included on his next studio release, due in 2005.

The DVD "Home to My Roots" consists of two historic concerts; South Africa 2000 documents Spear's first trip to South Africa at the dawn of the new millennium and includes candid interviews with him giving insight to his music and message. Live In Paris, Zenith '88 captures one of Reggae music's landmark live performances. It's obvious that in the twelve years that lie between these concerts have had no effect on the man's popularity. His fans in South Africa have been waiting for him for a long long time and are extremely happy to get a glimpse of the living legend. Although his vocal delivery isn't what it's used to be, the impact of his performance remains untouched. The traditional one drop riddims, combined with his rootical lyrics are still appealing worldwide. The 1988 Paris concert was an extremely strong performace and I'm glad they have included that one on the DVD.

These are some of the songs offered here : Spear Burning, Happy Day, Creation Rebel, Mistress Music, Driver, The Wilderness, Door Peep, Old Marcus Garvey and Swell Headed.