Friday, March 24, 2023

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Donald Trump Inspires Reggae Album

After seeing the disappointment in his wife’s eyes when Donald Trump won the United States (US) elections in 2016, Aaron Nigel Smith dedicated a song to her which has now morphed into an entire album. Smith is now celebrating the project’s No. 1 debut on the Billboard Reggae Album chart for the week dated March 23.

An educator and international touring musician, Smith said he was totally shocked and honoured that his solo album, In Our America, had done so well. “Not in my wildest imagination did I ever think that this would have happened.” Released on March 8 on his Aya World label and distributed by Tuff Gong International, the album was produced by Dubtonic Kru band member Deleon ‘Jubba’ White, who said he was honoured to have worked on this project.

In Our America has 10 songs inspired by events in the US and around the world. The album cover has various messages plastered all over it: ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Immigrants and Refugees are Welcome’; ‘All People are Equal’; ‘Women are in charge of Their Bodies’, among others. What’s profound  is that the album offers positive messages and inspiration for everyday activism, and has Donald Trump to thank for its genesis.

“It was the day after the US elections, and I looked at my wife, and she was so disappointed, and the song Ring The Alarm came to me. It started out as a tribute to women, and it just ended up being an entire project,” Smith recalled.

Ring The Alarm, without ­apology, aims the spotlight on Donald Trump and his errant ­policies and represents a call to action. Smith said he felt compelled to speak up about the state of the United States and the world, especially political changes in the last two years, and the album does just that. Songs like More Love , and One call for world peace and unity, two messages in harmony with the tenets of Rastafari and roots reggae.

Smith who  has no Jamaican roots, expressed his appreciation to the Jamaican community for embracing him. Expressing how he loves the culture and  pointed out how he fell in love with the music in high school and was heavily influenced by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Born in Pontiac, Michigan, he credited his grandmother for ­getting him involved in music, that ­subsequently became his life, as he won scholarships that took him through school. “I know that music saved me as a child, and thankfully, my grandmother was astute enough to realise that I needed something. And it is for this reason why I have decided to work with children,” said Smith, who is the founder of 1 World Chorus, a non-profit organisation serving youth in the United States, Kenya and Jamaica.

Known for the Emmy Award-winning PBS TV show Between the Lions, he has produced and released five albums for ­children, including 1 World Chorus Celebrates Bob Marley, in ­collaboration with Ziggy Marley’s Tuff Gong Worldwide.

Donald Trumps presidency has impacted the world greatly and influenced and touched people in different ways. His legacy will draw a lot of debates and conclusions in years to come. But the one thing people can draw from everything is that he has drawn more people together to sing with one voice. The world just awaits a riddim that embodies his presidency and persona.

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