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AFTER A LONG HIATUS, SONGWRITER ANTHONY ROCHESTER IS BACK TO HIS GAME!

 
 Anthony Rochester—

DURING the 1990’s roots-reggae explosion, Anthony Rochester was a silent partner in a movement driven by artists such as Tony Rebel and Garnet Silk.

Rochester wrote or co-wrote a number of hit songs for Silk (It’s Growing, The Rod, Fill Us Up With Your Mercy), Everton Blender (Coming Harder, Family Man) and Nadine Sutherland (I’m in Love).

After a break, he is back in the fold, working with singer Jahmali on Done Deal, the singer’s EP which is scheduled for release next month.

He wrote and produced two songs on the six-song project: Keep On Keeping On and Mother Nature.

“I never really left the business…I’ve been writing as usual. I took some time to tend to my family who is and will always be my priority,” Rochester told the Sunday Observer from his Atlanta home last week.

Jahmali

Jahmali

In addition to Jahmali, Rochester, 50, has worked recently with singer Kashief Lindo and deejay Natty Remo who have done songs for his A’Dis Music label.

The Jahmali project, to be distributed by VP Records, is his most high profile in years.

Rochester was a close friend of the charismatic Silk who died in a fire at his mother’s Manchester home in December 1994.

Garnet Silk

Garnet Silk

They met in the late 1980’s through Rebel, a mutual friend, and quickly formed a spiritual bond.

“Working with Garnet was like having fun each and every day, it did not feel like work. We were doing what we loved to do,” said Rochester.

A past student of St George’s College, Anthony Rochester inherited a love for music from his father, a pianist and passionate American rhythm and blues fan.

Anthony Rochester

Anthony Rochester

The younger Rochester was drawn to roots-reggae and Rasta. The songs he wrote for Silk and other artists 20-odd years ago reflected his state of mind.

“Songwriting for me has always been an inspirational approach. As Bob said, ‘there is a natural mystic flowing through the air and if you listen carefully you will hear’. Sometimes, day-to-day vibrations and world affairs give me topics to write about,” he said.

The roots renaissance of the ’90’s saw a return of consciousness to the Jamaican dancehall after a decade of ‘slackness’ and gun lyrics from hardcore deejays like Shabba Ranks and Ninja Man.

Chronixx

Chronixx

There is a similar movement in contemporary reggae, with Chronixx as unofficial leader. Rochester has good words for the young turks.

“The roots revival is a good thing, I think, because people tend to say reggae dead and to the contrary there is always some youths on the battlefield of music that keep it authentic and are true to the craft,” he said.

— By Howard Campbell

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