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RICHIE STEPHENS IS BUILDING A SKA NATION!

By Howard Campbell—

 
 Richie Stephens and the Ska Nation Band.–
The ska craze had died down in Jamaica when Richie Stephens (Stephenson) was born in 1966. Though recognized as one of dancehall’s elder statesmen, he has always been a ska man at heart.

“I grew up seeing people dancing happily to ska. I always wanted to have a band of nine musicians with me out front doing my thing,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

Stephens fulfilled that dream by recording Internationally, an album he did with the Ska Nation Band out of Salerno, Italy.

The set has 14 songs, including collaborations with Sean Paul, Gentleman and Sud Sound System, another Italian band.

 RichieStephensSkaNationBand

Its lead song, Fire Fire, is driven by the music of The Wailers’ Put it On. Foundation Sound, a salute to ska’s legends, has the beat of Simmer Down, another Wailers classic.There is one cover, soul legend Solomon Burke’s Cry To Me.

Stephens and Ska Nation recently did seven shows in Japan, including the Greenroom Festival in Yokohama which had Chaka Khan as headliner.

He first met them and Sud Sound System at a festival in southern Italy last year. Stephens was instantly drawn to their sound.

Richie Stephens

Richie Stephens

“I love the way they do ska, it’s a little more colourful than we do. We have more drum and bass but they put everything on top,” he said.

Both bands are in Jamaica to shoot a music video with Stephens whose first major ska effort was the song Everybody Dance two years ago.

Ska was born in Kingston’s clubs during the early 1960s, inspired by Jamaican musicians’ passion for American jazz. The sound produced Jamaica’s first international hit song, Millie Small’s My Boy Lollipop, in 1964.

MillieSmall:MyBoyLollipop

The music of ska pioneers Derrick Morgan, Prince Buster and The Skatalites still resonate throughout Asia, Europe and the United States east and west coasts.

Richie Stephens, the Ska Nation and Sud Sound System, are scheduled to tour Europe in July.

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