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Interview: Luciano on reggae today, UK fans and more

FOR THE PEOPLE: Luciano says he always does his best to put on an amazing show

BY HIS own admission, Luciano loves the UK, as he says it was one of the first countries to propel his music globally.

The love the ‘Messenjah’ receives here is unparalleled outside of his home country of Jamaica, and Luciano, who will perform at the I Love Jamaica Day celebrations taking place on July 30 at the Capital City Academy, Doyle Gardens, Willesden this weekend, told The Voice that the UK will always have a special place in his heart.

However, in the many years that the It’s Me Again Jah singer has been treating the fans to his dulcet tones, the elder statesman of reggae music said he was disappointed to notice less radio time given to the music genre he is famous for. Talking about how the country had changed since he first started touring here in the 1990s, Luciano said:

“One of the things I have noticed is that there are fewer and fewer places for us to perform. There doesn’t seem to be as many theatres and venues open to us.”

He added:

“Even the radio stations have changed. You used to find more reggae was played on the radio stations. If it is wasn’t for one or two stations like BBC 1Xtra or even the pirate stations, then we wouldn’t hear reggae like we would have at one time. There was a time when I used to come here that everywhere you turned you would hear reggae being played and, if I’m honest, there was more vibrancy in the air towards reggae roots music.”

While the thousands that flock to see Luciano perform this weekend will be singing along to the multiple classics he possesses in his discography, the 42-year-old has some new music coming out later this year. He enthused: “That’s right – we have a new album coming, and it’s going to be called In The Name Of Love. It’s really about getting the people to realise the importance of love in whatever we are doing. If you don’t have love, then you can’t be successful at anything. If you’re baking and you don’t do it with love, then the bread won’t taste good. If you’re cooking and you don’t cook with love, then it cannot taste good. If you are living a life and there is no love in it, then there is no happiness. So we are appealing to the leaders of the world, leaders of our communities and parents in general to take steps towards this most vibrant potential part of life which is love. The message (throughout the album) is about revitalising that love – that love in our hearts.”

When you’ve wowed crowds all over the world for a couple of decades as Luciano has, you would be forgiven for not really being up-to-date with the hippest of young artists. It’s not a surprise, then, that he still has more of a fondness for reggae stars from yesteryear – but he still has his ear to the ground for those who are carrying the responsibility of presenting reggae in a positive light to new audiences.

“I still have to listen to the old school like Dennis Brown and Sugar Minott,” he said.

“I could get up any day and randomly listen to Bob Marley because for some reason, his music keeps me in tune. Now and again, I will listen to some Chronixx and I will always listen to Garnett Silk and Morgan Heritage – I love that group.

“I love how Chronixx has come up and built his thing. I love the young generation of roots music.

“I do find that for some reason, however, I don’t get that same vibe that I would get from the old generation of root singers like Dennis Brown and Burning Spear. So I keep going back to the roots and I keep going back to the foundation.”

Offering some advice for aspiring artists hoping to create the type of legacy Luciano already has, the star said it was important to always be yourself. I would advise everybody to try and keep it real. As the great Bob Marley said, natural is the mystic, and the mystic is natural. The more natural you are, the more the mystic will work with you.

“There are times when you do simple things in life and you get a better result than when you hype everything up. Some people hype up and they are not being themselves. To me, it’s best to be true to yourself.”

Looking ahead to his performance at I Love Jamaica Day, the son of an evangelist said he couldn’t wait to belt out some hits for his loyal fans.

“I got my first recognition in the UK. My first number one song was really in the UK, Shake It Up Tonight, so that’s the kind of connection I have with the UK. It’s a nice fan base and over the years they have always been true to me and I have always been true to them.

“This weekend, they are going to see the Messenjah live and kicking. Energy levels high, it’s promising to be a good performance and I always try to do my best so the people leave with a fulfilment in their heart.”

I Love Jamaica Day takes place on Sunday July 30, from 12 noon-6pm at Capital City Academy, Doyle Gardens, Willesden, London NW10 3ST. Adult tickets cost £7 and children’s (between 5-12 years old) tickets are £3 - under 5s are free. free. To secure tickets, click here. For further information call 020 7708 6614 or email: ilovejamaicaday@janouk.com. Please note that on-site parking will be available and I Love Jamaica Day is an alcohol-free event.

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