Harrison Stafford – 1/2 Dozen Questions

I have to say a special big up to Island Stage’ CEO Susan Underwood for introducing me to this amazing artist/human being. I knew of Harrison Stafford, (in passing)-hey, I’m keeping it real, but I never had the pleasure of really going deep and getting to know his music, or what he was really about. You know…his accomplishments, as well as his tremendous contributions to our culture-and there are many!
From Harrison’s Biography:
“Harrison Stafford was born in 1977 and grew up in the town of Pleasanton, an east bay suburb of San Francisco, California. He attended regular public schools and also spent time in Synagogue studying the Torah and learning Hebrew. His parents have a deep appreciation for the love of music and music played an important role in the daily life of the family.

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?: 

CP – Greetings Harrison. How are you king?

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?

HS – As a youth 7-8 years old the music struck a chord within me, something about the singer’s mission of spreading the message of peace and love and a hope for a better world. For me reggae music was the foundation of my childhood. Growing up in California and attending Hebrew school studying the Torah while none of my friends in my town where Jewish, it was very frustrating. I thought “why do I have to spend hours and hours a week studying a language that no one around me spoke?”

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.

CP – Tell us about the college level course you created and taught, “The History of Reggae Music”. Was it a challenge for you in regards to getting this approved, and how was it received by your students?

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.

CP – Wow…that’s amazing. Maybe this needs to be a mandatory course in all schools. Does “Harrison Stafford and The Professor Crew” consist of the same members as “Groundation”- the reggae fusion group you formed in the nineties?

HS – No, they are different. Groundation features for the most part young Californian jazz musicians and the aim is creating a new style of music; a fusion of Jazz and reggae. Groundation’s music is cutting edge and develops polyrhythmic and harmonic moments that are not typically found in reggae. The Professor Crew is taking the music back to it’s roots and joining some of the legends of Jamaican popular music in the studio to create a powerful example of true roots reggae Rasta music.

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).

CP – You have toured the world and worked with many legends in the reggae industry. Your latest effort “One Dance”, is slated for a May 2016 release. Who are some of the musicians who worked on this project?
 HS – For “One Dance” I joined the musicians together in Kingston last September at Harry J Studio, the same studio where Bob Marley recorded his classic albums Catch A Fire, Burnin’, Natty Dread, and Rastaman Vibration.

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.

 CP – I am also curious about your soon to be released documentary, “Holding On To Jah”. Please share with us a little about this project, and where we will be able to purchase it.

HS – After 15 years of production Holding On To Jah was released on DVD, online streaming and downloading on November 10, 2015. The documentary film is 97 minutes long and features exclusive interviews with many Rasta elder musicians including Culture, Don Carlos, Israel Vibration, The Abyssinians, Ras Michael, Pablo Moses, The Congos, Countryman, Sugar Minot, and Price Alla.

“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.


Wow. Harrison is a true legend; an inspiration. Bless up king.
I see that Countryman is in the “Holding On To Jah” documentary as well. With him (Countryman) being as ill as he is, I will have to purchase this and watch it with him. I’m sure he will be honored. It’s also more reason for me to keep this dvd dear to my heart.

Thanks for your time Harrison. More life!

 iTunes link to purchase the album:

Link to purchase “Holding On To Jah” dvd: 
One Love!

About celebrityplusagain

Read the 'about' section...plz. Thanks for stopping by. Tell a friend...come again!
This entry was posted in 1/2 Dozen Questions, 1/2 Dozen Questions, 1/2 Dozen Questions and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.