A song and foundation for MoBay - Stories of fear lead to track on Hezron's album
About a year ago, Hezron sang at a friend's wedding in the city he is from - Montego Bay, St James. He met a lady there, and during a lively conversation, she suddenly got serious. The talk took a turn towards rising crime in the city. That, in turn, led to the song, MoBay, on Hezron's album, The Life I Live Continues (Soulful Salvation).
Tonight, at Level 96 on Hope Road, St Andrew, Hezron will not only present a video for MoBay, and tracks from the album, done with him on guitar, a keyboard player, a percussionist, and harmony singers, but also introduce a foundation aimed at assisting persons in Montego Bay.
"Education is the ultimate thing. That is the blueprint for change," Hezron said.
After detailing the "sunny streets" and "happy faces" that once characterised the St James capital, the song goes on to request "MoBay, please come back MoBay."
Giving the background to the song, Hezron said that when he was speaking to the lady and her mood changed suddenly, he, naturally, asked the reason. It was because she had not heard from her two children, so she was concerned, considering the state of crime in the city. When she got in touch with them, she told them to come off the streets and go home immediately. "This is not the Montego Bay I used to know," Hezron thought to himself.
There was more. "She told me she went to a dead yard (a gathering in honour of a deceased person) with the brother of the person who was going to be buried the next day. While they were there, gunmen came and killed the man," Hezron related. The fear was so strong that the woman said when people get into a taxi they are often afraid of the person beside them.
The conversation affected him very badly, weighing on his mind as he drove back to Kingston. The next morning, Hezron got a call from Gilles Geuggis of Addis Records in Switzerland, advising him that a riddim had been e-mailed to him.
As he listened, the words came immediately, and the song was finished in a matter of hours.
The emotion carried over to the studio, where Hezron said that during the recording, the engineer remarked that it sounded like he was crying.
"I had to take a 10-minute break," Hezron said. The accompanying video was shot in the city it speaks about, the locations including Pier 1, Ironshore, and Spring Garden.
Including it on The Life I Live Continues (Soulful Salvation) changed the tone of the set, Hezron said, noting that he liked to focus on social issues in his songs. Ikaya and Louie Culture are among his guests on a set which includes Taxi Driver and Universal Man, a tribute to his father, where he sings about growing to understand him and dismissing comic book characters like Spider Man and Superman to conclude, "to me you are the greatest hero".
Hezron believes that tonight's Level 96 presentation of the foundation, MoBay song and video, and tracks from the album, will go a far way towards establishing his presence more firmly.
"A lot of people know the songs and the name but not the face," Hezron said.