Reggae is bigger than Bob Marley: Burning Spear.

Burning Spear
Burning Spear

In a world which still tries to force the evil and false philosophy of white supremacy down the throat of the people, they would have us believe that Bob Marley is bigger than Reggae because of his white father.  The truth is, while Bob Marley gained international fame and fortune from reggae music, he pales in comparison to some of the real geniuses of Reggae music.

Today we look at Burning Spear.

Marcus Garvey was one of the greatest Jamaicans to ever live, with only Dutty Boukman being worthy of ranking higher.  No reggae artist has sing more praises to Garvey like Burning spear, even though artists like Sizzla and Capleton have come close.

In 1975, Island Records released Spear’s epic Marcus Garvey, generally recognized as one of reggae’s greatest album.

Produced by Lawrence “Jack Ruby” Lindo, Marcus Garvey was a powerful ode to the Pan African hero who died in 1940. Like Garvey Spear was born in St Ann.

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In an interview with a Jamaican tabloid, Spear said Jack Ruby understood his admiration for Garvey, and shared the concept of an album dedicated to him.

“Him hear some a mi song like ‘Marcus Garvey’ and ‘Slavery Days‘. After some reasoning mi decide fi work wid him,” Spear recalls.

That decision turned out to be a fruitful one. “Jack (Ruby) neva understand the business side of things, but him did know music, full of ideas,” says Spear.

He was encouraged to take his music to Studio One in 1969 by none other than Bob Marley, another St Ann native. The results were a self-titled debut and Rocking Time, outstanding albums that announced a unique artiste.

They included hard-hitting songs like Ethiopians Live it Out, Joe Frazier (He Prayed), Rocking Time, Call on You, Foggy Road, Swell Headed, and Weeping and Wailing. Those sets won Burning Spear a diehard underground following.

Marcus Garvey made him world-famous. For 30 years a succession of quality albums, promoted by tireless touring, made him the hardest working man in reggae.

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Before he cut back on touring, Spear won two Grammys for Best Reggae Album with Calling Rastafari in 2000 and Jah Is Real in 2009.

Now 72, Burning Spear is an elder statesman of reggae. His music has been cited by younger reggae acts such as Anthony B as an influence, and bands such as The Grateful Dead and The Police.

He was invested with the Order of Distinction by the Jamaican government in 2007.

So why isn’t Burning Spear talked about by Jamaicans the way Bob Marley is?  Because his mother and father were both Black so they never got the stamp of approval from white people. Unfortunately, most Black people (especially in Jamaica) only value what white people tell them is valuable.

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