There’s no arguing that the most famous names in reggae are those of men. Despite reggae’s reputation for calling out injustice and inequality in its rebel music, it is still very much dominated by male voices, male producers and male musicians.
‘Adrian Sherwood presents Dub No Frontiers’, released 22 July via Real World Records, is a platform for some of the great international female artists currently operating to unite and celebrate in dub, and is inspired by and features female vocalists the On-U Sound producer, and brainchild behind the project, knew from the UK or had met while travelling around the world. “Many of the singers said they felt the dub/reggae arena was a male preserve and a little intimidating even, so we decided to invite artists to perform a song of their choice, all in non-English on our rhythm tracks.”
The results are spectacular: the ten tracks produced by Sherwood, with half co-produced with the late great Lincoln ‘Style’ Scott and arranged by Skip ‘Little Axe’ McDonald, ring out with a vibrancy, richness and energy. From Rita Morar’s ‘Meri Awaaz Suno (Hear My Voice)’, a fragile, beautiful piece sung in Hindi over the Sacred Ground Rhythm and Tunisia’s Neyssatou’s potent take on Bob Marley’s ‘War’ sung in Arabic, to Kerieva McCormick’s (who spearheaded the project with Sherwood) hypnotic ‘Chavale’ sung in Romani, this is all crucial stuff.
Peter Harris’s cover painting of Afeni Shakur Davis sets the visual tone of the record and both the LP and CD come with a 12-page booklet featuring more of his paintings of inspiring women from the world of literature, politics, law, civil rights and medicine, such as Claudia Jones, Flo Kennedy, Barbara Jordan, Claudette Colvin and Mary Seacole.