Sat | Dec 15, 2018

Acclaimed guitarist starts music school in Spanish Town

Published:Thursday | March 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Andrae Carter
Andrae Carter
Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley

Andrae 'Wangz' Carter, known in the music industry for his skills as a lead rhythm guitarist, has retired his life as a background musician, seeking to become his own frontman. After building an enviable touring history, the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts graduate has began to focus more of his energy building his own musical empire.

Carter told The Gleaner that he now makes his living from those seeds sewn. He said he currently earns from distribution royalties, returns from radio and television plays, as well as other entrepreneurial investments.

"Music is not the only thing. Music is just my first love," the guitarist said. Last September, while laying the groundwork to kickstart his solo career, Carter also founded Kingdom Melodies School of Music in Spanish Town.

"I went to my parents' church and saw that there was no music," he said. The musician told The Gleaner that he initiated a Saturday class programme which enticed the interest of students of all ages. "Lifting it up from the ground wasn't easy," he lamented. "It's like I had to be teaching all the instruments, so you had five students per class and different hours. It's like they were hungry for it. I had to be from the guitar, to the keyboard, to the bass, to the drums. By December, there was an amazing Christmas recital with kids and adults alike," Carter continued.

For the critically acclaimed album Distant Relatives , by Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley and American rapper Nas, Carter laid the guitar tracks on the single, My Generation, featuring the vocals of Lil' Wayne. Carter also laid the guitar track for popular Junior Gong love song, Affairs of the Heart, and has lent his talents to foreign acts and Billboard chart-topper Joss Stone. In 2012, Carter was the lead guitarist of the Distant Relatives Tour. He also toured with Romain Virgo in Europe during the summer of 2013 and also played with Jah Cure and Duane Stephenson. He has performed with other top reggae artistes like Warrior King, Spragga Benz and Toots and the Maytals.

Though he has handed over the administrative reigns to his sister, Carter has already laid plans to extend Kingdom Melodies mission. He told The Gleaner that he has been in touch with the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and has reached an agreement which will allow Kingdom Melodies students to take the board examinations this June.

"Even at Edna Manley, you had to do it," Carter shared.


Devoted to dream


"I devoted my time to Kingdom Melodies last year, but a tutor is there now. I feel good because most of the people that didn't have any hope in the past, now they're playing music. They go to class every Saturday," he told The Gleaner.

"This exam, anywhere in the world you go, you can teach music. I just feel good that people in the ghetto from Spanish Town, God's willing, in June, they can go an' teach. Dem likkle tings mek me feel good," he continued.

Though he no longer plays for other musicians, Carter hasn't ruled out that option.

"I don't play for anybody anymore. Maybe in the future, if I feel it and the energy is right and I feel the music. I used to do the music for the money and I would find myself playing with one artiste for years. I was making, but I wasn't growing musically. People call me, but it's too much. You're just building up a nex' man's empire. In the future, I want to play with other people, not just Jamaicans," he said.