Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Cocoa Tea blends vocals, social conscience

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2015 | 7:00 AM
Johnny Gourzong of Summerfest Productions.
Cocoa Tea
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Ahead of Reggae Sumfest 2015, which will be held in Montego Bay, St James, from July 12-18, The Gleaner will be providing its readers a closer look at some of the artistes who will be performing at the premier summer festival. First is the outstanding, long-lasting singer Cocoa Tea

One of reggae's most talented, decorated, and versatile artistes, Cocoa Tea, will be performing at Reggae Sumfest 2015 at Catherine Hall. The veteran performer is scheduled to hit the stage on Friday, July 17, to sing at the annual event dubbed The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth.

Cocoa Tea is one of the few early reggae stars to carve out a consistent, productive career as the genre evolved over the years. His cool, laid-back vocals are perfect for smooth lovers' rock and give him a distinct identity amid his more vocally aggressive peers. He reinforces his sound on culturally potent material.

Johnny Gourzong, executive director of Summerfest Productions, is happy to have such an icon on the show. "Cocoa Tea is not only an established performer, but an amazing entertainer who has multiple hits from across the decades. His music appeals to all age groups and people can appreciate his music for what it

will add to the show on Friday," Gourzong said.

"Cocoa Tea represents the very heart of Reggae Sumfest, the very best of reggae and Jamaican music in general, we are elated to have him on our line up," he added.

Still an extremely viable solo artist, Cocoa Tea is firmly established as one of Jamaica's finest vocals.

Looking ahead to next Friday, Cocoa Tea said "my performance for Sumfest will be better than the last one,"

He is very active off-stage as well. "I'm working on a project called Stay In School, designed to show young children the reason they should be thinking about having a very good education and parents the importance of proper parenting. This will in turn help to reduce the overwhelming increase in child abuse and to show how education can help to solve other social problems we face in society today," Cocoa Tea said.

Born Calvin George Scott, Cocoa Tea began to carve out a name for himself in the music industry in 1983 with producer Henry 'Junjo' Lawes, hitting with Rocking Dolly and I Lost My Sonia. His 1984 album debut, Weh Dem A Go Do, Can't Stop Coco Tea, suggested he had a great future in the industry. This proved to be correct, as his late '80s albums Sweet Sweet Coco Tea, Cocoa Tea, The Marshall, and Come Again established him further.

In 1989, a super group featuring Tea, Shabba Ranks and Home T recorded together under the auspices of both King Jammy and Gussie Clarke, the result being a major hit album Holding On. There were also the singles Pirates Anthem' and Who She Love.

He was able to maintain a steady, solid level of popularity into the late '90s, with hits for Burrell (1996's Israel King, 1997's King Sporty cover I'm Not a King) and Bobby 'Digital' Dixon (1995's Holy Mount Zion), plus a collaboration with Cutty Ranks on the 1997 Bob Marley cover Waiting in Vain.

Still, social issues are squarely in Cocoa Tea's sights.

"I'm in the process of garnering sponsorship to make a first-class video to bring to the attention of the world, and most of all Jamaica, the problems that face our children today. But I can't do it alone, so I'm soliciting the help of the Ministry of Education, the Jamaican diaspora and my fellow artistes and musicians too," he said.

"Being on Sumfest gives me a golden opportunity to get this project going and I need patrons to come expecting to play a part in this project because it is very important for us all to contribute to the cause of starting to turn 'Jamaica, land we love' into a better place to live, raise and grow our children. Let us start to live like a family again and look out for the welfare of all those who live and do business in our country. I know that we can do it if we all work together to make it happen, but we must put our minds to it and, most of all, we must start with education and the youth because they are the future of our great nation. Bless." Cocoa Tea said.