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SNWMF '06
PERFORMERS



 

 

Aisha

Aisha was born in the north of England in the sixties. 

She was always surrounded by music as her father ran a sound system playing at weddings and parties.

It was her father who encouraged her early development as singer as he realized her natural talent and would give her the microphone so she could sing over the records that he played.

At sixteen, Aisha met a DJ called Lippy who owned a sound system called Locks City. He gave Aisha the opportunity to ‘voice’ the dub plates that he played in his sound.

This experience creatively expanded Aisha’s abilities, and she began writing lyrics.

In 1979, the band Capital Letters became prominent in her life. She was encouraged to audition as a backing vocalist. They were so impressed with her voice they welcomed her as a member.

In the early eighties, Aisha’s first break came when she was introduced to Dr. Alimantado who was recording at Ariwa Studios; he introduced her to Mad Professor.  

The first tracks of the album called “High Priestess” were laid at Ariwa.
Another album “True Roots” followed, along with various single track releases.

Aisha continues to work, touring mainland Europe, Kenya, Botswana and the UK.

Aisha is a Soundman’s Daughter . . . and, a True Roots Dawta. She’s trod
the world singing her Ilahfull songs and doing Jah Works. But no matter where she goes--be it Afrika, Brazil, Israel, Europe, Australia, Scandinavia, Mexico, or Japan--she's Uplifted and Inspired the ones who hear her sing. Her first Jamaican performance came in 2000 at the Augustus Pablo Benefit. Her American debut came in March 2004 with Mad Professor when she blessed NYC with a special appearance. Her first albums, High Priestess and True Roots were produced by Professor on his Ariwa label, her last two, Zion’s Daughter and Raise Your Voice were produced by Twinkle Brother Norman Grant. All are roots classics. When ORB sampled Creator on the hit Blue Room, and Ministry of Sound sampled it again on Roll to the Floor, Aisha reached
an even wider audience. After her performance at "Meltdown '03" at
London's Royal Festival Hall, the London Telegraph termed her "the closest we have to a female Bob Marley."

Born Pamela Ross on October 1962 in Wolverhampton, England, child of
Jamaican parents, she debuted at age eight on her dad’s sound. Her father, whom she calls my greatest inspiration, also exposed her to his precious collection of vintage American and Jamaican music.

As a teenager, she developed her skills jamming on Lippy’s Locks City
sound. I was writing conscious stuff then because I think I just came
into finding myself. Her first break came in ‘79 when she joined the group Capitol Letters singing backup vocals. She’d just gone solo in 84 when she met Dr. Alimantado, who was working locally with Neil Fraser, aka Mad Professor. For Professor she cut several tracks, including Creator, which released in 1986. Jah Shaka, the respected UK Soundman, Itinually played a dubplate of "Creator" in session, thus introducing ones to Aisha’s magical & angelic voice singing one of the deepest and most heartikal of roots tunes. "Creator" not only became her signature tune, it became a bona fide Roots Anthem.

By ‘88, Aisha realized that things were not really on a rootical level, which is why some would receive the music and some probably wouldnt. Either I was gonna change and follow the trend, or stick to how I felt about my songs. I never write a song without spiritually experiencing something that inspires me to write on a subject or feeling. As long as I can express myself and people can relate to what I’m expressing, I’ve
done my work, I think with most of my songs that’s exactly how people relate to them. Lots of women mention ,Now or Never from True Roots; you can feel what I’m feeling, though at the time, I never went back to that track, just left it, because it hurt so much. I’m Not in This World, was another tune women, especially young women relate to; I was
addressing women’s issues, the things we naturally are going through, while at the same time trying to balance it within Rasta and remain on a conscious level. I wrote One God, One Aim, when I was  totally on a vibe where I was questioning my faith; I was determined to finish it and put it to song.

To Aisha, each performance is special--not just "another gig." Her tours and performances have inspired her spiritually. In 1998 she performed in
Nairobi, at the Kenya Sunbeat Festival. It was a turning point in my life because I actually reached Africa, she says. I was playing for 70,000 people and the way they received me . . . I literally had to receive people and acknowledge that Im home. I was overwhelmed.

Africa was like feeding the hearts of many. We probably take music for
granted every day, but you go to places like Africa, and they’re so hungry for the food, for the strength and encouragement. Aisha is said to mean life, but in Israel in ‘95, she was told it’s an ancient word for grandmother.I never experienced anything like that show; singing, looking at the sea and seeing endless people. You just think
reggae’s so big, bigger than they let us
think.

Collaborations with reggae legends have enriched Aisha’s life and artistry as well. In ‘96, in England, she met Augustus Pablo.It was a pleasure and a
privilege being around him and actually observing him, she says. He gave me so much inspiration in terms of acknowledging what this music is
all about; the time and the effort. They talked of doing an LP, and with him she recorded. Give a Little Love, and two unreleased tracks, now planned for an upcoming roots daughters compilation. Accustomed to the norm, fitting her tunes over pre-recorded rhythm tracks, she laughs, Pablo had a way of working that I wasn’t used to. He said you sing, I work around you .it was like learning from a legend how music was produced in the early days. One of the last things he told me was, Aisha, don’t change, be who you are, continue doing what you’re doing.

At the end of the day, I felt his presence spiritually. And of
performing with Jah Shaka, she says, It’s beautiful. Where Shaka plays,
there’s Life.

In addition to her music, Aisha works with troubled teens. I’ve been
around young people all my life. I’m here to encourage the young
generation, ‘cause what I see In England is not really promising; I look
at the youth and think they don’t have any hope; they honestly believe
there’s no future for them. She’s also raised three sons the source
of my strength. The eldest, 24 year old Leon aka Quake is a drum and
bassist with a record releasing soon.

I give thanks for everything that’s come my way; every time I get up
onstage I could never say I’ve been ungrateful for what I’ve had, because within the pain I’ve learnt my lessons," Aisha says. "If I didn’t have the pain, then I don’t think I would have been able to move on, because there’ve been many pitfalls. As long as I enjoy what I do inside, and feel quite natural to express myself the way I’ve been
inspired to. Because all I am is an instrument that the Father wants to
use to heal people, so I give thanks for every opportunity. Some have been very small in most people’s eyes it would be a waste of time but my life is people . . . to feed people.

---by Judy Hecker


 

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