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Lasana Bandelé fuses sung, spoken word

Published:Monday | November 26, 2012 | 11:00 AM
Lasana Bandelé. - Contributed

Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer

Lasana Bandelé's résumé shows that he applies his voice to the sung and spoken word in equal measure. In 1980 he earned a bronze medal from the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) for his poem Mad Dogs, then in 1989 Living in Shacks, the first song from his own label Storitela Music Limited, to hit big.

Living in Shacks was also the title of the show Bandelé did at Redbones Blues Café, New Kingston, recently, where he fused poetry and song. It was his first show in Jamaica in about 17 years and on a much smaller stage and in a vastly different setting from Reggae Sunsplash, on which Bandelé performed in 1990 and 1991.

And, after an extended time in San Francisco, it is a more world-wise Bandelé who took to the stage. This is not only because of the music that he has made in the interim - he told The Gleaner that he has four albums of unreleased material - about his experiences.

a liberal city

"It is an interesting city," Bandelé said, laughing. "A lot of people like it, a lot of people don't like it. It is a liberal city, so a lot of people persecuted over the world and the USA live there. It is a microcosm. I learnt tolerance, live and get live. Perhaps that was one of the reasons I went there.

"What people are doing, even if it looks different from what you are doing, it is their path, so we have to tolerate and give leverage for difference. When you learn these things it makes your life more peaceful."

He learnt in a more formal way as well, studying film, sound engineering and other aspects of the creative industries. This developed on the three years Bandelé spent at the School of Music in Jamaica, in addition to a year at the School of Drama. In doing composing, he played guitar, flute, congas and piano.

Bandelele said, "I have never played solo here." Among his new material, one album's working title is Is Anybody Out There? He has also done a cover version of Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind, among many other songs. He can also go back to his first single, the 1974 Hanging Locks, and the second release, Send Us Home (1976). In addition, Bandelé said he has "a couple instrumental albums as well".

Just as he traverses creative terrain at will, Bandelé says in life "there are no boundaries. Belief is fine, but you have to make space for new wine. And that is what the arts teach me about myself and about life".