Articles Comments

» BREAKING NEWS, Featured » COUNT OSSIE AND THE MYSTIC REVELATION OF RASTAFARI FIRST EXAMPLE OF NYAHBINGI DRUMMING!

COUNT OSSIE AND THE MYSTIC REVELATION OF RASTAFARI FIRST EXAMPLE OF NYAHBINGI DRUMMING!

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer—

 

IN 1959, fledgling music producer Prince Buster assembled a band at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation’s studios in Kingston to record Oh Carolina, a rollicking drum song by the Folkes Brothers.

Accompanying them were Count Ossie and his drummers from Wareika Hills, a vibrant Rasta settlement in east Kingston.

It is the first example of Nyahbinghi drumming on a mainstream production in Jamaica. It would not be the last.

Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari

Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari

Count Ossie (born Oswald Williams) died in 1976 in a motor accident. He was returning to Rockfort from his native St Thomas.

Just 50 years old at the time of his death, Count Ossie paved the way for exponents of traditional Rasta music. He began informal drum sessions while living in West Kingston, heartbeat of early Rastafari, in the early 1940s.

Moving to Wareika Hills in 1944, the movement grew to become the Stone Love of the late 1950s and early 1960s. Their ‘Grounations’ are where top musicians like trombonists Don Drummond and Rico Rodriquez jammed or just hung out. Many who attended learned about roots music and Rastafari.

The Count Ossie troupe included his long-time friend Filmore Alvaranga, who was a member of a government-funded fact-finding mission to Africa in 1961.

Count Ossie

Count Ossie

Officially known as Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari (MRR), the group helped put Wareika Hills and nearby Rockfort on the map as a musical hot spot. The sounds from impromptu jams found their way into ska songs by The Skatalites, a group in which Drummond was a key member.

The MRR released two seminal albums in the early 1970s, Grounation and Tales Of Mozambique, which inspired other Nyahbinghi performers to record. Among them, Ras Michael and The Sons of Negus, who also cut a series of groundbreaking songs and albums throughout that decade.

The MRR was also cited as a major influence for Rodriquez’s amazing Man From Wareika album released in 1976. They gave aspiring musicians such as trombonist Nambo Robinson their start and served as enlightenment for black-conscious youth, including a Kingston Technical student named Alan Hope who would later be known as Mutabaruka.

Interestingly, it took a 1995 cover of Oh Carolina by an unknown deejay named Shaggy to revive interest in Count Ossie’s work. Some of the members, including Alvaranga, featured in a court case which determined if Prince Buster was the actual producer of the original version.

Led by Sam Clayton, the MRR did several well-received tours of Europe throughout the 1990s.The group is now led by Count Ossie’s son Delroy Time” Williams and his daughter Mojiba.

Written by

Filed under: BREAKING NEWS, Featured

%d bloggers like this: