Anthony Keith Blair alias Anthony B, like other musicians such as the late Joseph Hill of Culture, Luciano etc, has been a strong musician for the oppressed and the down trodden masses. After a number of albums, Anthony B is out again with Suffering Man. On December 7, 2006, after his exotic electrifying live performance at the Petro in Antwerp, I spoke with him. These are the excerpts of the interview.
You were on the scene ten years ago, but the name Anthony B, wasn't on the lips of music fans like now, how did you make it so fast?
Reggae music is trying to get the message across to the people. I'm not a racist and I don't discriminate behind my music, rather I sing about global love and togetherness. Since the fans like the message, that is part of my quick acceptance and success.
If I'm right, you duet with the late Joseph Hill of Culture, on which project or album is that song?
It was the song "Two Sevens Clash" It wasn't an album. I sang it with the "Mighty Diamonds"
You are now at Petrol, the venue Joseph Hill of Culture played his last concert before his death. What was the impact of his death to you and Jamaicans in general?
I had two or three concerts with him before this happened. I saw him some a few days before and all of a sudden Joseph was gone. It was a big blow to me and all reggae fans across the world. "Culture" was like an educated history teacher amongst artists, whom people go to and ask questions about historical factors. He was the pioneer of reggae music and one of the artists who kept burning high with authentic music.
I listened to your Seven Seals album. The track called "Mr Heartless" – what inspired you to write that nice music?
Talking about suffering, I don't even have words to explain it. Because this is the way we live. It is part of our life that we never try to eliminate it. We always have to remember our roots, as Burning Spear" said. For me there is too much suffering in this world. People live rich while others live in poverty, yet no one cares. This was created by man, not God. This is what "Mr Heartless" is about.
You were born Anthony Keith Blair. Did changing your name to Anthony B, enhance your success as a musician?
Not really, but growing up in music in Jamaica as an artist, you need to find a name for your self. I'm oriented African with an English name, so I made it "Anthony B."
I always ask every artist I interviewed the same question. Many are those who sing about Africa and the love to return or visit the continent. But how many of you have been there?
I have been to Senegal and Gambia. First and foremost is the reality as an African. I respect my culture. There is an incidence about my visit to Gambia, when my visa expired the same day. I was at the airport when I was told that the Gambian police were looking for me to deport me to Jamaica.
It is a silly thing to know that you have been to the continent of your origin but haven't enough days to see the people. All these problems are created by the political leaders. If you want a visa to Gambia you have to go to England first. They have to remove all these political barriers.
I remember of a friend from Accra-Ghana, who was deported from Germany to Jamaica. He doesn't know anyone in Jamaica. Luckily he has my number. He called me and I had to help him because we are Africans.
The sleeve design of your album That's Life has a wonderful picture of an African baby in her mother's womb. How did the conception of that art created?
Evolution is a must and knowledge is in school. Already people have thought that people come from monkey and ape, for me that is not the concept of life. The concept of life is reality. If there is no baby, there is no woman and if there is no woman, there wouldn't be a baby. Every man we see today was once a baby. They all come from the mother's womb. The great civilisation came from Africa.
What message do you have for your fans?
The message for my fans is to call for togetherness, with one love and respect for everyone. No bloodshed. No discrimination. I'm black or white doesn't bring any good result in our communities. All we need is love.
Anthony B, thank you very much for this interview.
You are welcome.Powered by Sidelines