Anthony Joseph’s Caribbean Roots

Strut team up for the first time with acclaimed French label Heavenly Sweetness for the brand new album by the celebrated poet, novelist and musician, Anthony Joseph.

‘Caribbean Roots’ represents an uncompromising return to his roots for Joseph, who has always remained true to a powerful, deep-seated sense of his own Caribbean identity. Starting out as a joint project with the outstanding percussionist Roger Raspail (Cesaria Evora, Papa Wemba), the album swiftly grew into a major work incorporating the rhythms, sounds and vibes that rock the Caribbean from San Fernando, Kingston and Les Abymes to Port-au-Prince and Havana. Backed by a band made up of a blend of musicians with Caribbean origins or connections, the album attempts to unite the different islands into a single entity without diluting any individual strand. “The idea, heard so often,” says Joseph, “is that the Caribbean is a fragmented region, socially, politically, historically. In my view, it’s a unified space, with more relations than disparities. The album is asking Caribbean people to consider that their roots are in the Caribbean, that their generations run deep and that now, we can claim it as ancestral space.”

AJ5 credit MIRABELWHITE med cropJoseph weaves an uncompromising direction through the album tracks, spinning his unique lyrical blend of afro-futurism and surrealism. He explores his native Trinidad and takes, in his own words, “a journey into the dark heart of the island”. He chronicles tales and parables: “songs tell of runaway slaves; badjohns or rude boys that we find much in black culture – our heroes, our soldiers”. There’s a muscular tribute to calypso great Mighty Sparrow and incisive reflections on colonialism: “As a Caribbean ex-pat living in Europe, I break out of the quotidian to realize that these grand architectures around me were built by those who colonized and enslaved me. I guess the album is about celebrating roots, but roots that lie within us.”

Heavyweight guests on the album include saxophonists Shabaka Hutchings (The Comet Is Coming) and Jason Yarde (Jazz Jamaica All Stars), trumpeter Yvon Guillard (Magma), bassist Mike Clinton (Salif Keita), trombonist Pierre Chabrèle (Creole Jazz Orchestra), Patrick Marie-Magdelene (Manu Dibango), celebrated Trinidad calypso icon David Rudder and Andy Narrell, master of the steel pans.

‘Caribbean Roots’ is released on Heavenly Sweetness / Strut on CD, LP and digital on June 24th. Pre-orders are available now. Album track “Mano A Mano” is streaming below.

Cornell Campbell & Soothsayers Tour UK in February

CornellFrontThe incredible voice of Cornell Campbell meshes so well with Soothsayers’ tight musicianship that after recording an album together, it made perfect sense for the two to tour together. Having already performed a handful of dates together (including the London album launch with Jerry Dammers this summer) the guys are ready to take to the road for a more fleshed out UK tour. Catch them early in 2014 at the events below, and don’t miss their album Nothing Can Stop Us, out now.  You can also get a taste of their onstage chemistry via the live video below.


7-2-14 – Cornwall: Mount Pleasant Ecological Park
8-2-14 – Exeter: Phoenix
13-2-14 – London: Hootananny
15-2-14 – Brighton: Concorde
20-2-14 – Newcastle: Northumbria University
21-2-14 – Birmingham: The Drum
22-2-14 – Aberystwth: Aberystwth Arts Centre
28-2-14 – Liverpool: The Kazimier

Cornell Campbell & Soothsayers In-Studio Interview

Despite differences in nationality, age, and personal history, Soothsayers and Cornell Campbell seem to have a natural chemistry together, which comes through on their collaborative project Nothing Can Stop Us. You can also see it in their interaction with each other in the studio, where the two artists discuss their initial introduction via well-known Jamaican producer, and their work together on the Nothing Can Stop Us project.

Cornell Campbell / Soothsayers London Album Launch w/ Jerry Dammers

Every new project feels like a celebration for us, but it’s extra special when we’re able to invite our friends out to enjoy the experience with us. On Wednesday July 24th in London, we’ll be doing just that as we get down to the sounds of the new collaboration between Cornell Campbell and London’s Soothsayers. In addition to a full live performance, none-other than Jerry Dammers of The Specials will be on the decks for a DJ set. We’re already counting the days!

Wednesday July 24th @ Cotton’s (70 Exmouth Market, London)
£10 advance / £12 door
Pre-order tickets here.

Listen To A Sweet And Soulful New Tune From Cornell Campell & Soothsayers

Cornell Campbell is a peerless vocalist, not only in the field of reggae music, but on the broader musical landscape as whole. His collaboration with London’s Soothsayers (part of our Inspiration Information series) is something special, and should be a delight to fellow fans who have followed Campbell’s career over the decades that he’s been putting out quality music. “With You My Heart Belongs” features a great vocal performance, and tight dubby backing from Soothsayers.

The new album Nothing Can Stop Us comes out July 9th on CD, LP (w. CD insert) and digital download.

Inspiration Information Returns With Reggae Legend Cornell Campbell & Soothsayers

There’s something about the act of collaboration that can bring out the best in musicians. That’s the philosophy behind our Inspiration Information series, and after some explosive results with artists like Mulatu Astatke & The Heliocentrics and Tony Allen & Jimi Tenor, we’re thrilled to have another killer pairing for a new entry in the series.

Cornell Campbell is practically an elder statesman in the field of reggae music, having released classic recordings spanning decades and a number of stylistic shifts. Campbell worked with some of the most legendary producers and labels, from “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One to ‘70s and ‘80s classics with Joe Gibbs, Bunny “Striker” Lee, King Tubby and Winston “Niney” Observer. His crooning vocals have been compared to Curtis Mayfield and Sam Cooke, but as he himself would say, his style is all his own.

Brixton’s Soothsayers, lead by saxophonist Idris Rahman and trumpeter Robin Hopcraft, have built a reputation as one of the hottest live bands on London’s competitive scene. The outfit has backed up artists including Mulatu Astatke, Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Arkestra and Hugh Masekela, and formed the nucleus of the band that backed the London leg of the ‘Fela!’ musical during 2011.

Together, Campbell and Soothsayers have created an album steeped in Reggae tradition, while incorporating elements of jazz, dub, and afrobeat. The songs offer a showcase for the talents of both artists, while not sounding completely like either of their individual recordings. In other words, a one of a kind collaboration.

Listen to their first song together, “I’ll Never Leave You,” below.