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GERMANY’S ROOTS QUEEN DISCOVERING HER REGGAE ROOTS!

Rising German singer Roots Queen on saying goodbye to a well-paying job to pursue a new life immersed in reggae and Rastafari
Written by Davina Hamilton—-

JAMAICA VIA GERMANY: Roots Queen—

REGGAE LOVERS know that the genre has long been embraced by a range of artists. With its ‘one love’ mantra, the all-encompassing genre has spawned talents of all creeds and colours, who have proudly flown the flag for the famed Jamaican music.

Despite this, it can still prove quite a surprise for some when an artist that doesn’t tick the boxes of a ‘typical’ reggae artist professes to be just that.

Case in point: Roots Queen. Hailing from Germany, the rising singer, born Birgit Pydde, decided to say ‘auf wiedersehen’ (goodbye) to her well-paid job in sales management, to pursue a career in reggae music. Did her friends and family think she was crazy?

Bob Marley

“Of course,” Roots Queen admits. “The family said it [a music career] wouldn’t make me rich; they didn’t want me to do anything like that. I was earning good money while I was working in sales management so yes; people thought I was crazy to give up that income to be a reggae artist.”

Reflecting on what drew her to reggae music, Roots Queen, who lived in Jamaica for three years, and both speaks and sings with a Jamaican Patois twang, says: “As a teenager, I listened to Inner Circle, Bob Marley, etc, and in my early 20s, I started to listen to [German reggae star] Gentleman. Two or three years later, I went to Summer Jam festival in Cologne [Germany] and found out that the thing I needed to do is sing and deejay reggae music.”

Currently putting the finishing touches on her debut album Powerful Energy – which was recorded in Jamaica with some of the island’s best session musicians, including bass player Dale Haslam and percussionist Denver Smith – the singer couldn’t hide her excitement as she revealed how well received she is in Jamaica.

“When I go on stage ah yard, people give me so much forwards [cheers]! Nuff people did tell me how much they rate my music and when I produced my first album myself, nuff people [said they] rate my composition and my understanding of the music.”

Following in the footsteps of fellow German reggae singer Gentleman, who has earned huge acclaim in the reggae world, Roots Queen says his success was an inspiration to her.

“I never meet him, but me rate him big time,” she says. “I listened to his second and third album hard, over and over; studied the lyrics and went to his stage shows.”

Considering what it is about reggae that has made it the music of choice for many non-black, non-Jamaican artists – think Alborosie (Italy), Matisyahu (USA), Collie Buddz (Bermuda) and the UK’s very own Ali Campbell of UB40 fame – Roots Queen reasons: “Reggae music has a nice vibe and this is what attracts people to it. It’s also really free. Even in my compositions, I mix up certain styles and it is still reggae music.”

Alborosie

Describing her lyrics as “authentic,” the singer immersed herself in Jamaican culture in order to earn that authenticity. First visiting the island in 2004, she returned in 2007 and stayed for three years. What did she find to be the best and worst things about living in the much-loved country?

“The worst is that food is really expensive. Even basic food like butter and bread is expensive. The best things: I can get my native coconut oil much easier and nicer than in Germany, and nuff more things like roots and bitters to boil. Plus, me love the waterfalls and rivers, and the climate is perfect.”

She admits she loves the Jamaican accent too – so much so that she adopted it as her own. “I was learning to talk Patois first, then after a while I started singing [in Patois]. Me love dis twang!”

In addition to embracing reggae, the singer has also adopted the Rastafari way of life and prides herself on trying to live as naturally as possible.

“I always felt attracted to Rasta people. But after studying the details, I tell you, I am doing my own thing. I find my own path to follow, which means I don’t smoke at all, don’t drink alcohol and just follow Jah’s guidance on my spiritual journey.

She continues: “I am a very natural person. I love country, I love the bush and I work with so many herbs, which service me in all purposes. When I have any pain or challenge, I sort it out naturally.

“When I was young, my parents forced me to eat meat, but when I tasted it, it felt so wrong to me. Furthermore, I cried: ‘Oh my god, the poor animals! I want them to live, not to eat them. So I stopped eating meat. Rastafari is livity [way of life] for me, which embodies all those natural things.”

Currently promoting her album’s first single Feeling Free, what are the singer’s hopes for the future?

“To continue living like I am now; just doing music. I want to produce more albums, promote them and go on nuff tours. I want to make people happy by sharing good music and good vibes.”

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