20th, 21st, & 22nd, 2003Frogtown, Angels Camp, California, U.S.A.
Twinkle Brothers & Della Grant
SNWMF 2000 - Photo by Lee Abel
Twinkle Brothers hail from the North Coast of Jamaica and the ghettos of Falmouth, in the
Parish of Trelawny. The two brothers, Norman and Ralston Grant, started singing in the
Sunday school choir at ages six and eight. They made their musical instruments because
they could not afford to buy them. Various tin cans and fishing lines became guitars and
drums.After Jamaican independence from England in the early 1960s, The Twinkle Brothers
began singing in competitions. At that time, the government of Jamaica started National
Competitions called "Po and Mento" festivals. In these competitions, you would
start at Parish level, then move up to Regional level. If successful there, you moved on
to the National finals.
They broke the barriers at the Regional Finals in Montego Bay
and went on to the Nationals in Kingston, winning First Place in the "group
category". They reigned supreme for years in the National competition and won several
medals.In the early 60s, the Twinkles Brother joined a band in their hometown of Falmouth
called "The Cardinals". The members were Falmouthians, from middle-class
society; teachers, bankers and accountants. Young Norman and Ralston were the bands only
'ghetto boys'. The Cardinals started playing in hotels and nightclubs throughout the
By the late 60's, the Twinkle Brothers started recording, going to Kingston to try for
auditions with Coxsone, Prince Buster, Beverly's and Treasure Isle, to name a few. They
were fortunate enough to get their first recording, a solo by Norman called "Somebody
Please Help Me', recorded by Leslie Kong on the Beverly's label. A year later came their
first single, 'Matthew and Mark', recorded by Duke Reid on the Treasure Isle label. In
1970, they entered the Jamaica Festival Song competition and placed third behind Hopeton
Lewis and The Jamaicans. During that time, the Twinkles were on the Jack Pot label,
produced by Bunny Lee. From there on they moved to bigger and better things: recording for
Dynamic Sounds, Federal Records, Sun Shot and Upsetter labels. In 1970, they formed their
own Twinkle label.
The band established itself as an accomplished vocal/instrumental group on Jamaica's
North Coast at an early age. It's quite a feat for musicians to support themselves with
music anywhere --- let alone in Jamaica's hard economy. The Twinkle Brothers went into
self-production, financing their sessions through Norman's employment as a solo artist. In
1975, the Twinkles released the celebrated 'Rasta Pon Top' which included such intrinsic
Rastafari anthems as 'Give Rasta Praise', 'It Gwine Dreada', 'Beat Them Jah Jah' and the
fiery, assertive title track: 'Rasta Pon Top'. In 1997, they signed to Virgin Records'
newly established Frontline label, a move that saw the release of the highly acclaimed
'Love'. This was followed by 'Praise Jah' and triumphantly, in 1980 by the class
'Countrymen' which featured premier, heavy roots items such as 'Never Get Burn', 'Since I
Threw the Comb Away' and 'Jah Kingdom Come'.
- Wendy Russell
|Today, The Twinkle Brothers
have produced 63 albums (with more to come!) plus numerous singles, a 'live' Sunsplash
album and video, one live album in Poland, three albums on Virgin label and one on Quiet
Storm released last year. With most of the band living in England, The Twinkle Brothers
have toured Europe, America, Africa, Scandinavia, Poland, Belguim, Spain and other
countries. In Europe, The Twinkle Brothers are an in-demand live attraction. The Twinkle
Brothers career is still in full flight. The Sierra Nevada World Music Festival welcomes
their 'landing' at this year's show on Saturday.
Della Grant at SNWMF 2000
Photo by Lee Abel
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