Debut album planned for changing times

Published: Sunday | July 5, 2009

After the evening's recording for We Are Free is finished, Kieran Murray plays some more tracks from what is planned to be Subrina Ward's debut album. They include Feet Don't Fail Me Now (she sings "the victory of oppressed people is the victory of all black people in the world") and African Pride (Ward tells the women "tun yu han' an mek fashion/there's more to life than wearing name brand").

Projections are for the tracks to be ready for mastering by the end of this month and Ward says, "We haven't thought of a name for the album yet. It is not set in stone".

Among the other songs slated for the album are Reggae Real Music, Listen and La La Dizouri, done in Ki-Swahili and English.

Naturally, for her full-length debut, Ward says, "I'm excited." But it is not only that she will have an album out; she also thinks that the timing is good.

"The wind has been blowing a different way for a while. People are ready to hear something different, something that not only entertains them but also edifies them," Ward says. And Murray adds, "Something that tells them about what is going on in the world."


The budget is a challenge, as it is a totally independent project, Murray saying "we don't have any label behind us. We just decided to do it independently. We are going to be shopping it, but if it does not get picked up we will be shopping it independently".

A lot will be packed into what is, by the CD standards, a short album, as the set will have 11 tracks at most. "I feel that is enough for a debut album," Murray says. I am also coming from the old school; I am used to vinyl," he added, those albums having far fewer tracks than the now regular offerings of over 20 songs.

Murray says 60-70 per cent of the album will be "straight-ahead reggae", African drums ("with a modern twist," Ward adds) dominating the rest. So far quite a few musicians have had an input, technology facilitating the input of a drummer in LA. Then there is an Afro-Cuban drummer, Istvan Dely, in Colombia, producer JB Eckl in Canada and Jamaican drummer Deleon 'Jubba' White.

While the work goes back to 2007 on the other side of the city limits in Havendale, recording has been on in earnest for three months.

"We have some people around us who want to be a part of this," Murray said.

It is a double debut of sorts, as it is also Murray's first full-length production project. He says, "it has been a learning experience. I don't know if it is stressful, but it is definitely a learning experience". And he is not afraid to get a helping hand, as "even the vocals, I am going to get someone to help me with it. Music is really my thing. Production is something where you have to know your strengths and weaknesses and where to get help".

living the song

Ward adds, "I guess I have been semi-producing as well. I have been saying what I like and don't like - not in a forceful way."

She has been performing regularly enough and says that it helps in recording. "When I'm in the studio I am asking myself if the audience will like it that way. When I try it out onstage it gets me to live the songs, not just sing them," Ward says.

"The performances and stage are where the songs get spiritual instead of something in a book. You are connecting with people at the time. If you are true to music it will be true to you," she adds.

Invariably, Ward performs barefooted and she smiles as she says "it feels better. I try not to get caught up in a materialistic approach to things. It makes me feel more grounded, connected to my naturalness. I can dance, I can grip the stage. It is part of my earthlike nature, being a Maroon. It is my connection to nature."

She adds, "Being on a musical high, when I am grounded I remember where I am."

And with her debut album moving closer to completion, Ward draws a parallel with another kind of 'natural high'.

"I have never had a child myself, but I've heard women who are pregnant say they can't wait to have the child. It's an expectant kind of spirit," Ward says, smiling.

- Mel Cooke