Sat | Apr 4, 2020

Taking Reggae to Russia

Published:Friday | June 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMSimone Morgan Lindo/Gleaner Writer
Shel K and Orisha of Orisha Sound, performing in Russia.

Jamaican-Russian duo Orisha Sound, is bringing reggae music to Russians as the country hosts thousands of football fans for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Earlier this week, the couple, who were featured on BBC 'Breakfast', said they were performing at several World Cup parties, much to the delight of reggae enthusiasts in the country.

"We see the World Cup as a medium to introduce reggae to the Russian massive and have even written and released a World Cup song called Tek the Place Ova. Reggae is still very fresh in some spots in Russia and most people don't even know who Bob Marley is," Shel K told The Gleaner. Tek the Place Ova also features European singer Oceana.

The BBC team had followed Orisha Sound for an entire day and stayed for the concert to capture a feature for BBC TV 'Breakfast' show, which has an audience of more than six million viewers.


Interracial couple


Russia has seen its share of racism, with some international media outlets reporting a spike in racist and homophobic chants before the World Cup. But the interracial couple has had a much different experience. According to Shel K, he has been travelling to the European country since 2014, and has experienced only love. Similar sentiments were echoed by his wife Orisha, who said the genre and the football tournament have helped to calm fears.

"They often ask what it is and what style of music is that. They love it. I think a lot of time hostility comes from fear, and this exposure with the World Cup and reggae music mends the gap and takes that fear away and lets people know that is OK to talk and have fun together. It shows that 'these' people are not here to threaten me but to have fun," Orisha said.

Born Orisha Pelzer in Oslo, Norway, Orisha is of Russian and Brazilian parentage. Trained in the classics, she plays a number of instruments and has toured Europe and the United States as a singer, musician, and dancer.

Shel K was born in St Thomas, Jamaica, but later relocated to Kingston.

"Music was always around me growing up, as my father, Ephraim, is a Kumina player and my brother Putus Roots is the lead singer of Mystic Revelation band," he said.

He met Orisha Sound in January 2013 and the two began working days later.