“I’m here to preach and to practice love to all people. Love is the cure for everything. Love makes you healthy and I’m convinced that one day, scientists will discover that it’s the basis of living, y‘know? Because we should all be loving people, and that’s the key message in my music. It’s all about love and progress.”
Spiritual’s music transports us to another time, when reggae legends like Bob Marley first took the rebel sound of Jamaica to a worldwide audience. Authenticity can be heard in every note, but then it’s coming from the same source – not only musically and culturally, but even the same ghetto communities of West Kingston. Spiritual was raised in Allman Town, and sang in his local choir before embracing Rastafari. He was orphaned at an early age, and could have joined the throngs of young hopefuls at any number of studios and sound-systems scattered throughout the city. Instead, he shunned fame and helped to heal the broken society around him by counselling the poor and needy. Music was in his blood and he continued to write songs, but Rastafari was his true calling.
Awakening is his debut album, and arrives just as reggae music is resurgent in its homeland again thanks to artists like Chronixx and Alborosie. The latter shared Spiritual’s breakthrough hit Marathon and introduced him to Clifton “Specialist” Dillon, who has also guided OMI, Shabba Ranks and other well-known artists to international success, including Alborosie himself. Under Specialist’s direction, Spiritual has been able to realize his musical vision at last, and deliver an album that can stand alongside the seventies’ classics that inspired him as a youth.
Right from the start, Spiritual’s music gave us hope and uplifted the spirits, which is how he got his name. Any doubts that he wasn’t among the most thrilling roots reggae discoveries of recent times were then swept aside by the release of Stand Up To Rasta. Now a highlight of the new album it’s a magnificent song of awakening, and sung by an artist reborn.
“I’m a spiritual person, and I like songs with spiritual messages in them – songs about life and our place in it, and that make you think about what you’re doing,” he explains. “I write songs that are supposed to make people feel good about one another, and that can show you something positive about life.”
“I liken it to gambling,” says Jamaica’s latest roots sensation. “You can gamble with your health, and you can gamble with your spiritual wellbeing and your place in society. You can choose to accept what the authorities tell us or you can learn to see what lies behind it, and make up your own mind about how things are. We need to have confidence in ourselves, and to use our discretion, y ‘know?
For me, the final goal is unity, and the only way we can achieve that is through love. In my experience, that’s what most people want to hear. They don’t want to be caught up in arguments and all that but I’m not trying to change anyone. I’m simply telling the truth and if people want to listen, then I’ll be there for them.”
– John Masouri, July 2016.