Photo by Roy Sweetland
Freedom reigned on July 28, 2007 for Siccature Alcock – the man many Reggae aficionados the world over know as Jah Cure.
During his eight-year incarceration at Tower Street Adult Correctional Facility, Jamaica, Jah Cure released three albums, Free Jah Cure (2000), Ghetto Life (2003), Freedom Blues (2005). He also received commercial and critical acclaim for hit songs like "Love Is" and "Longing For," one of the crooner's personal favorites and admittedly a tearjerker for this writer. One couldn't help but wonder if the man was this productive while in captivity what he has in store for us now that he is no longer behind prison walls.
True Reflections: A New Beginning was released on July 31, 2007 just three days after his release – needless to say Mr. Alcock hit the ground running. Roughly two weeks later, on August 12, the luminary was off to Holland for the Sundance Music Festival.
The Cure, as many fans affectionately call him, was in full effect on the day of our interview – six weeks after his release. On the day of our conversation, the Cure had spent the better part of the day in and out of studios around Jamaica laying down vocals on dub-plates and tracks of his own for his forthcoming album. We talked about his beginnings in music, his thoughts on the Rastafarian lifestyle, his feelings on today's Reggae music, and - for many one of the most anticipated events in Reggae history - Curefest!
Ever the entertainer, the Cure recalled first memories of music as a young boy - singing to girls at school. "I can remember my schoolmates and I making music together, singing to the girls, singing love songs by Anita Baker and those singers," explained Alcock. He names Anita Baker, Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley as a few of his favorite artists when he was growing up.
When he was 13, Alcock hit the streets of Kingston from Hanover. Upon making the rounds in Kingston, he met Capleton - who gave him his moniker. "I knew Capleton and he was already in the business as an established artist. I was around it and that's how it all started," explained Jah Cure.
Whenever opportunity knocks Siccature Alcock is not the type to shut the door. From that point forward, he has kept coming and 17 years later as he put it himself, "me never stop."
In that 17 year journey, there was a turning point – Alcock's discovery of the Rastafarian way of life. "I'm not too far from where I was before. I live Rasta different. It changed my life on a spiritual level and I see the Father from different heights. Right now, I try to stay humble and give thanks and pray," explained the crooner.
For young and burgeoning stars he offers a few choice tips. "Stay focused, try to stay positive," he said. "Come with your own sound, learn about the business before you get into it - there's a whole heap of tricks within the trade," he shared.
When asked how he thought today's music measures up to old school music Jah Cure expressed avid appreciation for the artistry of both today and yesterday. "We don't want everything to sound the same. Every music bigs up different flavours, you always have elders who do it good and those who do it not so good. There have been improvements through the technology and advancements. It is what it is," said Alcock.
In the wake of mainstream audiences taking notice of Caribbean music through the work of artists like Elephant Man, Kevin Lyttle, Sean Paul, Tony Matterhorn, I asked the man who many tout as the future of Reggae music his thoughts on artists who produce "crossover" music.
He responded in the way a musician's musician - a person who really loved music - would respond, "I like every kind of artist's music. I love it! Everybody has a different style - if you feel like traditional style isn't working cross over then. Experiments are good. If you try and it works for you give thanks! You can't follow fashion every day - spread your wings try new ideas. I feel good about the music. Anywhere you have reggae it's a good thing."
Taking his words to heart, I asked the Cure about his time at Holland's Sundance Music Festival. "It was nice. It was the first time with this kind of welcome. I've done a show there opening for another artist. This second time it was the real time." As it was his first time in front of an audience in nearly a decade, you have to wonder whether there was an element of awkwardness in being on stage. The Cure quickly and calmly refuted any thought of the sort. "I was a captive. I've been doing this for 17 years so now I'm doing it and I'm loving every second of it. I'm doing what I was put here to do."
Next up is the highly anticipated CureFest taking place in Trelawny, Jamaica from October 12 to 14, 2007. The first night of the festival, October 12, will feature the True Reflections party and dinner in Trelawny, featuring sounds by 45 Cure, DJ Renaissance, Stone Love, Danger Zone and Fire Links. On October 14 the Longing For concert will take place at newly erected Trelawny Stadium. Featured artists at CureFest will include Barrington Levy, Richie Stephens, Richie Spice, TOK, Capleton, Jah Mason, and others.
Of his fans experience at the concert Jah Cure says "they have to come out and get it because" he will be giving it to them. Exactly what ‘it’ is, is open for debate and speculation. I for one would call it natural mystic.