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Hold a joy in a Humboldt

Reggae singer Stevie Culture. Photo credit: Robert Brown

By | Robert Brown

Local Reggae singer, Stevie Culture and The Irie Rockers will be performing live at the Emerald Fair, part of the Humboldt County Cup harvest weekend celebration happening at Redwood Acres in Eureka on November 19, 2017.

“This band is me and my friends who were yearning to get out and play the music we were writing,” Stevie said. “We were playing and realized we were recording some really great stuff.”

Irie Rockers have released two albums, “Movin” and “Conscious Step,” which carry a positive message with conscious lyrics.

“The beauty about reggae music is it has a message that we can apply to our everyday life,” Stevie said. “If you listen carefully, you will hear. As one of my songs says, Hol a joy, never end joy.”

Kingston born, Stevie Culture grew up listening to the radio, memorizing all of the hits. From hours of listening to music on the radio, he knew all of the top 20 songs in Jamaica, and in America, along with all of the lyrics. He became known for his ability to sing any song on cue.

“My friends liked the way I sang so they put me on the mic at the dancehall one night,” Stevie said. “People were digging what I was doing, so that led to a regular thing.”

Stevie immediately realized that he loved singing and it grew to become his lifelong passion. He worked for several resort hotels, performing a mixture of classic and modern songs for tourists. There were three opportunities for struggling artists to earn a living in Jamaica, and possibly become noticed; singing at weddings and banquets, in the dancehall, and at the after party on the beach.

“In Jamaica when I was starting out, after a show I would stay on the beach playing the keyboard with my headphones,” Stevie said. “Sometimes I played all night into the morning trying to learn it. I have a real love for it.”

Big name artists would come to the beach scouting for musicians and singers to recruit them to go on tour. Capleton, who was signed by Def Jam records, noticed Stevie and asked if he was interested in going on tour with him. Stevie toured with Capleton all over the world, performing and perfecting his craft.

“I’ve played for sold out auditoriums all over the world,” Stevie said. “In Japan, Europe, the Caribbean, Barbados, and around the United States.”

During the 1990’s, Stevie sang with Jamaica’s top band called, The S.A.N.E. Band, and routinely opened for several topnotch Reggae artists like Shaggy, Anthony B, Sizzla, Steel Pulse, Culture, and Burning Spear.

“I feel lucky to have been around at the best time for Reggae music,” Stevie said. “I sang with Dennis Brown, Tony Rebel, Everton Blender, and Garnet Silk.”

While on tour in the U.S., Stevie came to Humboldt to perform. Humboldt has a large Reggae scene due to the annual Reggae on the River festival held near Garberville every summer.

“I came to Humboldt in the late 90’s,” Stevie said. “I was on tour around the country and Reggae on the River was a date on the tour.”

Stevie was approached by an up and coming musician who asked him to stay in Humboldt to perform, write music and possibly put an album together. Deciding to stay, it didn’t take long for him to feel at home and become embraced by the community.

“People in California and Humboldt support what you do,” Stevie said. “If you are out doing you’re thing, and the people like it, they will come to your shows.”

Humboldt county is known as a place of high inspiration by artists that come through, or live in the area. The North Coast is a haven for creative people, due to the natural landscape, the Pacific Ocean, and the number of like minded people that collectively create a unique vibe unlike anywhere else.

“Living up here in Humboldt is peaceful and quiet,” Stevie said. “I can drive 15 minutes in any direction and find tranquility by the ocean, a river, or just taking a hike in the redwood forest. It was easy for me to be at home here because I came from the countryside of Jamaica, so this is what i’m used to, country living.”

Along with being inspired by the surroundings, Stevie draws inspiration from the elders who came before him like Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, and Bob Marley. Artists from other genres of music like Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye were also big influences.

“As Jamaicans, people think all we listen to is reggae music,” Stevie said. “As much as I love it, I like other things too. So when I’m writing songs, I don’t stick to one thing. I like to incorporate elements of different styles into my music.”

Stevie reasoned on the dynamics of how to make a hit song in Jamaica.

“Jamaican people listen to music with their bodies first, we’re dancing people, we love to dance,” Stevie said. “If people love the riddim, it becomes a hit. After that if the people like the lyrics, it becomes a hit again. So there’s two chances to make a hit song.”

To find out when and where Stevie Culture and The Irie Rockers are performing, go to his website StevieCulture.com.

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