As long as you're in Kingston for the month of February, it should be easy to find yourself in a sweet reggae music space, from stage shows in Trench Town to the waterfront Downtown Kingston, top artists are sure to stop by and celebrate their love for reggae as well. Also recommended: Weddy Weddy Wednesdays and Dubwize mid-week, or the Kingston Dub Club on Sundays.
Favourite artists change and increase in respect over the years, while others become less accessible, or remove themselves from social media and limelight, existing only on old recordings and memories. Each year I am moved to see the creativity and brilliance that comes out of Jamaica, with new artists easily capturing my heart, and adding to the ever-growing list of musicians who have solidified my enjoyment of reggae music. This year in particular, I have been moved by Bushman.
Bushman (aka Dwight Duncan) hails from the parish of Saint Thomas, and has been a passionate musician from a young age. Growing up in Prospect Beach, he was recognized both in elementary and high school for his musical talents, and participated in drum cores, choirs, and even played bass organ. Before we knew him as Bushman, his moniker was Junior Melody, where those in Saint Thomas knew him as a selector with Black Star Line sound system, and through voicing dub plates for local sound systems like King Majesty, Lee's Unlimited, and Mello Construction. It was this exposure to producers and the reggae music industry that brought him to meet up with Steely & Cleevy who would then help him record his first tracks.
Bushman's first album, Nyah Man Chant was released in 1997 from Greensleeves/VP records and continues to be a classic in any reggae music collector's lexicon. After Nyan Man Chant, albums Total Commitment (2000) and Higher Ground (2001) were also released from Greensleeves, with production from King Jammy. Subsequent albums followed: My Meditation, Signs (2004, VP), Get it in Your Mind (2008, Burning Bushes), Bushman Sings The Bush Doctor (2011, VP), and his latest project Conquering Lion.
His voice, talent, and contributions to reggae music are evident, but last week Bushman was placed in the forefront of reggae media for poignant statements made to OnStageTV after his performance at Tony Rebel's Rebel Salute music festival. One of the last performers to touch the stage, at the end of an exhilarating two-day event, Bushman expressed his disappointment with the timing of his scheduled appearance, as well as the nature of the style of reggae music that seemed to consistently receive more attention. Shedding tears on camera, the video of Bushman declaring his love and aspirations for the creation of reggae music went viral. His personalized hashtag, #StandWithBushman also made an impact on social media, as he encouraged reggae music lovers to dedicate themselves to preserving the purity and progress of the music he has committed his life to.
Bushman sat down with OnStage TV host Wynford Williams and spoke about his journey as an artist, as well as the recent controversy. Evident from the dialogue, as well as Bushman's position throughout his discussions and appearances since Rebel Salute, this artist is not only passionate about his music, but also the genre and future of reggae music as a whole. When changing his stage name from Junior Melody to Bushman, he took heed to the West African definition of "bushman" which described a "medicine man." Bushman told Williams that he considers himself to be a provider of musical healing/medicine, and that his music has the ability to help physical and mental pain subside.
|Via Jamaicans Inspired|
The discussion of dancehall culture is always a hot topic, and one that attracts not only a variety of tastes, but also a range of perspectives. Bushman voiced his hopes for black women to be wise and smart, and for the youth to grow with self-awareness, self-value, and self-respect. It is his mission to educate, and connect with his fans through performance that had Bushman so full of passion after Rebel Salute.
Realizing that his production platform and visibility were not as strong as he would have liked, over the years, Bushman still remains humble and grateful for every opportunity he is given, and for the re-release of his album "Conquering Lion" across all digital platforms.
Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.