- By Paul Suart
REGGAE legend Maxi Priest will spread the gospel that education is key when he performs to youngsters at Birmingham’s Flyover Festival tomorrow.—-
London-born Maxi, who joined Birmingham band UB40 for their reunion tour in 2007, is the star turn at this year’s festival, which celebrates the cultural contributions of British Jamaicans.
And rather than persuade a new generation to throw themselves into music and the arts, Maxi hopes to encourage the younger sections of his audience to make the most of their time at school.
Speaking from Sri Lanka, where his band were touring, he said: “I would hope my music inspires people to pick up an instrument or get into the arts.
“But the business has changed a lot and I would be more inclined to get people into education.
“That will be my message when I perform because a good education can be the stepping stone to a successful and happy life.”
Now in its fifth year, the festival is being staged in its familiar home beneath the Hockley Flyover with acts performing from 1pm.
Workshops exploring Jamaica’s influence in the UK, both historically and as a force in contemporary culture, have been held in schools in the run-up to the festival.
Maxi, who alongside UB40 is the only British reggae act to score a number one in the US, said he was excited about catching up with some old friends in Birmingham.
“I can’t wait to play in Birmingham, it’s like a second home to me.
“Birmingham is such a melting pot of cultures and music seems to stream through all of that.”
Founder and organiser Soweto Kinch, who will bring his own blend of contemporary jazz and hip-hop to the show, said he was delighted to be broadening the scope by adding Birmingham Royal Ballet to the line-up.
The Hockley resident said: “It’s about widening perceptions.
“This isn’t a community arts event – it’s a unique space where the best forms of artistic expression can exist.
“We’ve been growing in maturity, audience numbers and in the scale of what we do.”