'Music is a mission, not a competition'.
The proven adage of conscious reggae music is the guiding theme of Glen Washington's new 17-track album, Masterpiece (ZHP). Reflecting his personal and artistic commitment to truth, rights and love, Masterpiece shows the mission is fully on course.
From serious conscious roots, to playful lovers reggae, Glen Washington lends, not just his voice but his soul to a masterpiece of both music and message.
Signature Zion I Kings musical arrangements emphasise layers of sound in which the interplay of percussion, breezy horns and bubbling bass lines tell a story themselves.
Here, Washington's husky vocals lead the listener on a reggae journey inspired by soul, mento and gospel. Glen Washington's Masterpiece is available July 10 worldwide on Zion High Productions via A-Train Entertainment (digital), Ernie B Reggae (CD/USA) and August 1 via CRS (CD/Europe).
The album opens with There Is A Joy, a proclamation for the love and spirit that has sustained Washington from his days growing up in Jamaica. The song is one in a masterful collection that bears witness to the spiritual foundation of Jamaican music.
Indeed, it is the joy of God's love that Takes Away The Whip and becomes a musical source of strength.
With help from fellow Jamaican singer Norris Man, Washington elaborates further with Why Worry. Drawing on Washington's more than four decades of experience in reggae and soul music ‹ including as drummer for Stevie Wonder's band‹Masterpiece picks from a choice selection of performance styles including the playful theatrics on Puppet Master, the gospel tinged When We Pray and the waist-level vibes of More Than I Desire.
Masterpiece is a roots reggae treasure box fully loaded with songs of joy, praise, and thanksgiving. The Zion I Kings, a musical fusion of roots-reggae maestros from I Grade, Lustre Kings and Zion High Productions, are at the musical helm, and have shaped a timeless collection for Washington whose long career grows stronger with the years.
On Masterpiece, the story told by Washington is punctuated by Zion I King's breezy sax lines (Wickedness), creeping bass (One Way) and jubilant horns (My Vision).
Here, the signature instrument is Washington's characteristic husky voice biting deep on reality tunes like Dark Days Are Gone and Chant Down Wickedness before turning sweet on the lilting Let Me Have My Way or Lovelife.
The inspired mix of uplifting message music with the raw and plaintive singing in his inimitable style marks Washington's Masterpiece.
Born in the Jamaican parish of Clarendon, Washington began his musical career in the early 1970s and later became the lead singer in a band called 35 Incorporated. He learned to play the drums under the guidance of then drummer, Joseph Hill.
When Hill left the band, Washington filled his chair and became known as the Jamaican singing drummer.
In 1978, Washington made his first hit record Rockers Not Crackers for Joe Gibbs Record label.
The release of his 1998 Kindness For Weakness returned Washington to the charts in fine form. Since his breakthrough work, Brother To Brother, on the legendary Studio One label, Washington has been releasing quality reggae albums which highlight his consistent strengths as a top vocalist and songster.