Monday, March 24, 2008

WE SPOTLIGHT - Tarrus Riley

By Cheryl Nneka U. Hazell
The Jamaican sun sits high in the sky as Tarrus Riley shops in a busy Kingston marketplace. Our conversation is focused but from time to time this latest blessing on the reggae scene gets caught up in the hustle and bustle of his surroundings and utters a long drawn out “chaaa”.

Several years after the release of his debut album, “Challenges” in 2002, producer Dean Fraser brought out a 15 track album entitled, “Parables”, (distributed by VP Records,) which has turned this ex-deejay into a highly sought out man. Tracks from “Parables”, such as “She’s Royal” set to Delroy Wilson’s Money Love melody, “Beware” which rides on the rhythm of Half Pint’s Political Friction, the John Legend cover, “Stay With You”, and “Lion Paw”, are top choices on every reggae deejay’s playlist and popular favourites with dancehall patrons.

It’s hard to believe that Tarrus never received formal musical training when you hear his soulful voice but he was saturated in the art via his father, ex-Techniques member, Jimmy Riley, and was gently pushed more towards it by his mother. He reflects on the way things worked out. “Me jus’ tek me likkle time and gwan and gwan until I couldn’t refuse it anymore.” It may have been his calling but his style does remind some folks of musicians that have preceded him.

Being a singer, songwriter and arranger are not the only contributions Tarrus brings to the table. Musicianship is equally important. “I play my likkle keyboard, and play my likkle instruments and I think that is good for your hearing and a professional in any trade should have tools to do his job.” Self-described in a humble manner as a “cool youth man, who mek music wha de people dem groove to, an easy youth who jus’ love music, live up and jus’ go through.” Riley is certainly covered with strength and protection, which according to Rastafari doctrine is symbolized by the lion paw. His latest production was the live video of the song of the same name. Lion Paw LIVE was recently recorded at the historical Ward Theatre and the Courtleigh Auditorium in Kingston and was the first video in recent Jamaican musical history to feature a combination of top instrumentalists and musicians.

Tarrus Riley is a young visionary and bold artist who is naturally plugged into what he feels his people want. “I want to give the people the feeling that I am right there with them in the struggle giving them inspiration.”
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