Tue | Nov 19, 2019

Marcus Garvey inspires new talent - Reggae/Afrobeat singer, Gawvy idolises National Hero

Published:Wednesday | January 9, 2019 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Recording artiste Gawvy
Recording artiste Gawvy
Recording artiste Gawvy

He introduces himself as Desmond Williams first instead of sharing the fact that he is the recording artiste Gawvy.

Though he does not consider himself a hero of any kind, Williams celebrates the work of national heroes, like Marcus Garvey (from whom he takes the name, with a twist to the spelling), and is not shy to speak about the hero's influence on the world. That influence extends to his seven-track EP The New Garvey, which was released two years ago.

The EP focused on defending race and culture, with standout songs like My Island, One Day and Man is Just a Man. At the time of its release, he performed under the moniker 'Di Govanah', which he did for 10 years before changing it officially last year - to avoid any confusion with dancehall deejay Govana.

"The lessons of Marcus Garvey as a civil rights activist, gifted writer and speaker who spoke about having pride in your race played a major role in my life as a person of African descent and as a lyricist," Williams said.

"More significantly, he was a hero that did not complain behind the scenes or blame persons for past mistakes, and I follow his teachings closely," he added.




Gawvy says the main message in his music will always be the upliftment of any race or people facing struggles; Face These Struggles happens to be one of his song that speaks to empowerment.

"Let it be clear that I am not trying to do what he did, but my goals are to apply the teachings, add to those, and use my lane to bring forth change through music," said Gawvy.

The 30-year-old says that using the name 'Gawvy' comes with a burden "because the public is so used to judging an individual by his or her outward appearance and where a person comes from, and I am a corn-row-wearing man from Hampton, St James".

The singer-songwriter incorporates different musical styles and genres with reggae and dancehall - from Afrobeat and jazz and blues to R&B. He has already taken his music to the United States, collaborating on a single called Be Alone, featuring American blues singer Katie Layne, and Europe, where he has performed at the Lakesplash Reggae Festival in Twann, Switzerland. "The music that I write and record is not limited to one genre, and it would be best described as world music - every kind of music that is created for everybody's ears."

Last month, Gawvy released the track Mama Africa, a title that has been used by a number of artistes, including rapper Akon, Nigerian Afropop duo Bracket and reggae legends Garnett Silk and Peter Tosh, but to which Gawvy give a unique sound. While some persons might find Gawvy's tendency to adopt an African accent comical, other might be slightly offended, but he says it has added to his image and the sound of the song.

The single, produced by Leelo Records, speaks to the gifts received from Africa, with lyrics such as, "Mama Africa/give birth to a place and that place we call Jamaica." He added, "It is one track that persons have gravitated to, whether as a result of the points that were touched on or what I am going for with the accent, which my African friends (from Ghana, Kenya and Gambia) who I have perform with overseas are appreciative of. I just want people to feel exactly what I am singing and respond positively in their actions."

For the rest of the month, the entertainer is focused on promoting his new music, which includes collaborations with dancehall deejay Mr Lexx (yet to be released).