It seems like a fairy tale – one short year after their NYC debut at Brooklyn’s Milk River as part of VP Records’ Dub Rockers imprint launch – Raging Fyah recently received the heady news of a nomination in the category of Best Reggae Album at the 59th Grammy Awards for their 3rd album Everlasting. Are they fazed by this news? Not really explains lead singer Kemar Bent who was accompanied by musical director, singer and keyboard player Demar Gayle at the VP media event held in Queens, NY on one of the coldest days so far of 2016.
Articulate, earnest and humble are just some of the adjectives that come to mind after spending time in the presence of two members of the five piece Raging Fyah Band. They are not new kids on the block as some would imagine, having put in the proverbial ground work; collectively and individually; backing dance hall notables like Vybz Kartel, Gyptian Cherine Anderson, Gregory Isaacs and Anthony B among others. Dissatisfaction at this secondary role and confidence in their ability to make the kind of music they wanted to hear led to the launch of their career as a performing band in 2008. The young men are all graduates of the revered Edna Manley College, with a veteran performer as the fifth member. They age in range from 28 year old lead singer Kemar “Kumz” Bent to 65 year old lead guitarist, veteran Courtland “Gizmo” White. Not content to just release quality products, in 2010 they conceptualized and executed the annual Wickie Wackie Music Festival held in Jamaica’s 8-mile Bull Bay area where incidentally Chronixx (then known simply as Jamar) made his first public performance! Hailed as part of the so-called resurgence in roots rock reggae this band has certainly piqued interest and has fans wondering if they are the new standard bearers of live authentic roots reggae music.
At pains to point out the incredibly hard work they’ve undertaken since 2015, in their first US tour, they performed in 34 cities, supporting American reggae stalwarts Stick Figure, an experience which both Kemar and Demar describe as extremely hard work but one that has its rewards in the opportunity of connecting with a diverse audience whose common thread is the love of roots music. 2017 looks to be just as hectic, with a short break in Jamaica for Christmas the band will set off again from January 24 through March 15 with Tribal Seeds on a 45 show tour. They will also perform with UB40 in the UK. An impromptu live acoustic set with Kemar accompanied by Demar on keyboards on “Splash” and “Ready for Love” was the perfect ending to an intimate and relaxed session and enforced the reasoning behind this band receiving a nomination to the Grammys.
Whether or not they win the Grammy, Kemar Bent, Demar Gayle, Delroy Hamilton, Anthony Watson and Courtland White, collectively known as Raging Fyah have already won, they’ve won and are winning the hard-earned respect of reggae purists by performing quality roots music with innovative and thoughtful lyrical content, but more importantly, they are achieving their goal of demonstrating that reggae is not just a three-chord musical expression; but by incorporating their knowledge of Beethoven, Bach and the classics learned at Edna Manley; they are composing roots reggae music innovative and timeless in nature, but still true to its origins – the heartbeat of Jamaica.