For reasons even he can’t fully explain, Reggae music and its’ history touched him at a very young age and sparked a love of the rhythm and culture of the African Diaspora. Still in high school he began to wonder why Reggae music, coming from a relatively small group of poor black people, was such a powerful voice for equal rights and justice, and he longed to be a part of that worldwide struggle.
After graduating from high school, Harrison studied jazz at Sonoma State University where he formed the fusion Reggae group Groundation in 1998. Groundation has since become one of the leading conscious bands of the underground music scene having released eight albums of original music and participated in countless world tours. Harrison continues to be a driving force behind Groundation both in his role as lead vocalist and in his creative ability to develop exciting new music.
Drawing on his personal research and his travel experiences in Jamaica and Africa, Harrison created a college level course titled “the History of Reggae Music”, which he taught at Sonoma State University from 1999-2001. The course was unique in that it took students who maybe just recently heard of Reggae music or only knew it from the popularity of Bob Marley and helped them appreciate the music on a deeper level; helped them understand how the music and message really defines who we are and where we stand in this time.”
You get the idea. So let’s plunge straight into my “1/2 Dozen Questions” with Harrison right her, shall we?:
HS – I am very well here thank you…getting some time at home with my growing family for the first time in 10 years!
CP – Wow! Ten years, that must be nice. I admire you for much more than your music. I also admire the passion you have for the culture the music derived from. Can you tell my readers where this passion came from?
It was the words from Bob Marley, Culture, Don Carlos that helped me to gain a confidence and strength as to who I was as these dreadlocked Rastaman sang “The Children of Israel need to be free!” I began making classroom presentation on reggae, Bob Marley, and Rastafari from 10 years old and it was always the culture and the roots of the music that inspired me. My parents instilled in me a love for history and a respect for knowing where things are coming from and I took their teaching to heart.
HS – I am very proud of this accomplishment, the first University course on the “History of Reggae Music” which I taught at Sonoma State University from 1999-2001. It took two years to create the course outline and syllabus and also meeting with the department head to prove that this course was needed to be taught and that I was the prefect teacher for such a course.
The passion for this came from the fact that Reggae music unlike the history of Jazz, Rock, or any other genre of music has both a lineal progression and development of the music while also a spiritual mission towards a world of harmony and “one love.” The course was very well received and after the first two semesters of teaching I had to limit the class size because there were too many students signing up to take the course.
The Professor Crew features Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace on drums (Burning Spear, Jacob Miller, and star of the movieRockers), Flabba Holt on bass (Israel Vibration, Gregory Isaacs, and Bunny Wailer), Obeah Denton on keyboards (URoy, Berrington Levi, and IJahman), and Dalton Browne on guitar (Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, and Freddie McGregor).
The foundation of the group is the drum and bass and for this recording I have two legends; Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace on drums and Flabba Holt on bass. Mr. Wallace has been a part of the history of reggae music for more than 50 years coming out of Alpha Boys School and then beginning his recording career at Studio One. He is most known for his starring role in the Jamaican cult classic film Rockers released in 1978.
Bassist Flabba Holt first performed in Western Kingston clubs as a dancer in the 1950s and then later became a vocalist where he would play bass on his own records in the early 1970s. These two musicians have a sound that can shake the earth and when they come together (which is very rare) no one can escape the power and intensity of the groove produced.
“Holding On To Jah” is the story of reggae music and the Rastafari movement told by the singers and people who brought it to the world. I am extremely proud of this film and after so many years of filming and editing I am thrilled to have it available for the people to enjoy and experience.
Thanks for your time Harrison. More life!