REGGAE MAGIC - Acclaimed band Souljah Fyah performs at the Elks Lodge in Red Deer on March 11th.

REGGAE MAGIC - Acclaimed band Souljah Fyah performs at the Elks Lodge in Red Deer on March 11th.

Souljah Fyah heading to Red Deer on March 11th

Two-time Western Canada Music Awards band will be perform at Elks Lodge.

BY MARK WEBER

There is something almost instantly uplifting about the sunlit reggae sounds of two-time Western Canadian Music Award winners and Canadian reggae pioneers Souljah Fyah.

The acclaimed band will be performing in Red Deer on March 11th.

Presented by the Central Music Society, the concert, which starts at 8 p.m., will be held at the Elks Lodge.

“I had travelled to the Caribbean and taught down there, and had played in a band while I was there as well,”explains singer Waymatea ‘Sista J’ Ellis, who also covers lead vox and bass.

Upon her return to Edmonton, she wanted to launch a band. She ran an ad in a local entertainment paper, and that’s when the partnerships with the guys started to take shape.

“We just kept asking around in the community who would be available, and who would want to join us,” she explained of those early days. And since the band was initially formed back in 2002, there’s been only one change in the membership.

Rounding out the band today are Doctor Paul Joosse (bass, keys, vox), Stormin’ Norm Frizzell (keys, megaphone) and the Original Tribesman (percussion).“It’s been pretty steady all the way through. April 1st will mark 15 years for us.”

A self-titled debut CD was released in 2004. Truth Will Reveal came next in 2008, followed by 2010’s I Wish and and last summer’s The Long Walk.

Her experiences abroad have certainly helped stir up the inspiration over the years.

“The cultures of music bringing people together is really what I’ve always wanted,” she said, reflecting on those times.

“We achieved that so early and the reason why we achieved that was because of a few key people who spread the word like wildfire.

“Through all of the years that we have been together, we have always been so blessed and gifted by the support that we’ve had with venues, promoters and audiences, and people that have considered themselves fans. We consider them friends after 15 years you get to know people. That was my vision. And I think that vision is what we are living,” she added. “The music makes people feel joyful.

“I also feel that we can be agents of change with music to help people feel joyful. What better way nobody is insisting that anybody believe anything except let’s take a look at the fact that we are all in this together.

“That’s what inspires me let’s all be engaged in the world together.”

Ellis was born in Edmonton and raised in surrounding communities, and through the years, music was front and centre in the home.

Her dad was a high school music teacher, and was also part of the team that started the first steel band in Edmonton back in the early 80’s.

“So I’ve been travelling in bands and playing classical piano since I can remember,” she explained. “We always had instruments in the house. Dad was also self-taught on every instrument in his job as a band teacher.”

She recalls being out into the wee hours at a number of cultural events with her family, too. “And the music that was playing there was from Jamaica and Trinidad. Everybody would be dancing and socializing that’s how I remember growing up.”

Meanwhile, The Long Walk overflows with first-rate compositions such as the compelling disc opener All is Still, the engaging clip of Bigger Than Me and the thought-provoking sensibilities of Old Program.

Circle is also a call to unity against a mesmerizing musical backdrop as is Loving Life.

One More Chance featuring Mojo Herb also grabs the listener from essentially the get-go.

It’s no surprise that it’s virtually impossible to sit still while listening to pretty much anything these very talented folks produce. And really, there couldn’t be a better lead singer than the supremely expressive Sista J. She said the goal with the CD was to really capture the energy that the band exudes onstage.

The band also travelled to Jamaica for much of the recording process, which added a whole new and exciting dimension of colour, joy and expression to the tremendous project. It marked the first time the band had ventured there to record, so it was a very special experience.

The aforementioned Mojo Herb was instrumental in helping to make The Long Walk exactly what it is. Not only that, they also made a huge mark on the locals who not surprisingly took a real shine to their music which resonates with a rare and striking authenticity as well.

Ultimately, the entire recording process was really affirming for the band as well.

“We found that we actually have this thing that we’ve already been seeking and searching for, and wanting to achieve. It already exists within ourselves. So all of us came away with this huge amount of gratitude for having had that (experience).”

As the years have gone by, the accolades have been piling up as well. They are the 2011 Western Canadian Music Award winners for Urban Recording of the Year, 2009 Juno nominees, 2008 WCMA winners, and were also twice declared the best reggae band in Canada by the Canadian Reggae Music Awards and the Reggae Music Achievement Awards.

But Ellis is quick to point to their loyal fan base as being key to the band’s overall success as well.

“We are spoiled,” she added with a laugh. “At the venue where we had our last release party, there were all of these familiar faces really representing over a decade and a half of support.

“We had such a great time, and we are very lucky.”

For ticket information, check out http://www.centralmusicfest.com.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com

 

Just Posted

Alberta is now below 3,000 active cases of COVID-19, as the province reported 2,639 Wednesday. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer below 100 active COVID-19 cases for first time since March

69.7 per cent of Albertans 12 and over have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine

Premier Jason Kenney says the provincial government is doing everything it can to encourage Albertans to get vaccinated. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Travel prizes added to Alberta’s vaccine lottery

More than 40 travel rewards available for those who are fully vaccinated

Three calves were recently shot dead in Lacombe County near Mirror. (Photo from Facebook)
Calves shot and left for dead in central Alberta

Bashaw RCMP investigating three shootings

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., center left, reaches over to Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., joined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., center, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus as they celebrate the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act that creates a new federal holiday to commemorate June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people after the Civil War, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2021. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

New American stat marks the nation’s end of slavery

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Most Read