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Stabroek News

Alton Ellis all set to 'Rocksteady'
published: Wednesday | June 25, 2008

Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter

Alton Ellis with his wife Judith Ellis at the press conference for 'Get Ready To Rocksteady', held at the Norman Manley International Airport on Monday. - Sadeke Brooks Photo

Legendary singer Alton Ellis has returned to Jamaica to be part of the Get Ready to Rocksteady concert and documentary.

Ellis, who is widely regarded as the 'father of rocksteady' for his 60s hit Rock Steady arrived in the island on Monday for the concert that will take place today at the National Indoor Sports Centre.

Speaking to journalists at a press conference at the Norman Manley International Airport, Ellis explained the importance of rocksteady in current music.

"Rocksteady is very important. Is rocksteady di man dem playing today. The emphasis is more on the shuffle and the bass, but is rocksteady dem still playing. Girl I've Got A Date is the first rocksteady song I did," said Ellis who currently lives in the United Kingdom.

Sustainability of rocksteady

Making reference to Sean Paul and Sasha's remake of I'm Still In Love Ellis highlighted the sustainability of rocksteady.

"I approve the song 'cause it is music overall. I can do a song and another artiste paint a different picture of it."

He reminisced on his early days in music saying, "no plug or fancy thing wasn't around. The mix that we achieve is remarkable."

While sitting, he moved around in his chair to demonstrate how he would hold the guitar close to the microphone as there were no devices to fine-tune the music later.

Though Ellis is booked for the concert, he says he is not yet part of the documentary as all arrangements have not been made. He said he wants to be paid for his efforts as this was not always the case in the early days of his career.

"If a man is going to make a historical film of your career, you expect to get something for it," said Ellis, whose Myeloma treatment was stopped on Friday.

Myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cell, an important part of the immune system that produces antibodies to help fight infection and disease.

For now, Ellis says he does not sing as much as before, but he produces songs for his children. He says if he does songs, they have to be mature, progressive and conscious as he writes the 'love' songs for his children.

The concert will form the backdrop of the Get Ready To Rock Steady The Untold Story of the Roots of Reggae 90-minute film which digs deep into Jamaica's rich musical past.

Documentary project

The concert is being staged in association with the Ministry of Information, Culture, Youth & Sports. It is a documentary project of Muse Entertainment & Hesse Greutert Film. It was shot in Montreal, New York and Jamaica. It is directed and written by Stascha Bader and his team of Producers Valentin Greutert and Betty Palik, Robert Boulos, Simon Hesse and Michael Prupas.

It will highlight the experiences of other rocksteady acts like Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt, Alton Ellis, John Holt, Derrick Morgan, Ernest Ranglin, Hopeton Lewis, Lynn Taitt, Lloyd Parks, Sly Dunbar, Stranger Cole, Dawn Penn, Slim Smith, Bob Andy and U Roy among others.

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