Ole time people have a special way of saying things that are unmistakably understood when spoken by these smart elders. “Yu tink seh mi born big” is one- don’t take me for a fool because i was not born yesterday. Here’s another- “From Whappy kill Phillup” –never knew who Whappy and Phillup were but these two sounded like enemies so you took it for granted that yes Whappy killed Phillup a long time ago. And then there’s another ” Mi say him born fi sing.” – a praise and worship terms of endearment given when they see someone perform at church and they are so good they were only born just to sing. Its Jamaican speech coined through the ages that has become a part of our verbal culture. Short, descriptive and truthful. When you hear Phil sing, you cannot help but say to yourself, this man was born to sing.
Talent is never made. It is given and the holder of the talent has 2 choices- use it or abuse it but they never loose it. Talent is a gift given to a particular individual and who was granted a vision to use it to create heaven on earth. Some see the vision, other’s don’t. Phil Watkis saw his vision and took the challenge. That challenge was simple- let your music speak to the lover, to the hopeful, to the hopeless. to the afflicted, to the loner, to the child, to the mother, to the father, to the young, to the old even to those unborn. And that he did and the Creator is pleased.
Interview with Phil Watkis- aka Ajani Gamba
1. Tell me about growing up in Jamaica?
These are some of the best days I can recall in my life, especially being born in the rural, (St Ann) in a place and time when family, self and people value were highly esteemed. This helped fostered and also instilled a high level of discipline in me as a youth, which is now a guideline for me on my journey. Life was very interesting because I grew with family members who reared cattle (Goat, Cow etc.) and had farms. This means that there was always something to do. Everyone in the village is your mom, daddy, grandma etc, which means that anyone could whoop your ass DWL. Good times, I LOVE MY HUMBLE BEGINNINGS!
Until moving in the BIG CITY (Kingston) Oh lawd ! A different ball game Every other day sounded like Christmas with fireworks (GUNS RINGING OUT) in the ghetto. I am grateful for the city regardless as it gave birth to the radicalness in my music. As a result, if I could relive my earlier years, I would relive it the same way in Jamaica.
2. Why a career in Singing?
Honestly don’t think it is a career, to me it is more like serving a higher purpose or being a voice for the voiceless. Well, if that is a career, I think this career chose me 🙂
3. Does your music gets drowned by the music of Latin America in Florida?
Reggae is a dominant sound force and we also have to remember each genre has its own market plus audience. Every other genre or artiste here in the music is trying to get a place in mainstream. Additionally, Reggae music is loved and appreciated by almost every nation. So I would say no.
4. How would you describe your music?
Inspirational. I say this because it inspires people to unite, love, rebel against oppression and also get in tuned with the higher self.
5. Everyone has some trials in the industry. Whats yours?
Finding investors who will accept the music I do without trying to get me to sing “Bubble Gum” music
6. Is the industry saturated with too much people without talent or too many producers accepting mediocrity?
A mixture of both; however, with time all that will change. Talented people like myself will have to find means and ways to get our craft out there.
7. Are you are an independent artiste and is that a security blanket for you?
I am an independent artiste because it is hard to find people who wants to promote real solid music. We are in the nursery rhyme era and because of that it forces these exploiters to promote garbage. I was told recently by a well renowned person in the industry “I don’t want to make money ten years from now, I want to make money now. ” (SMH).
8. What is the smartest thing that you did in your career to date?
Learned the business aspects of the music business.
9. Complete this sentence- THE MUSIC YOU MAKE IS MORE SUITED FOR….?
PEOPLE WHO LOVE REAL MUSIC 🙂
10. What inspires you ?
By the positive and negative, meaning I can be inspired by a great deed or action of an individual or the bad ones too. I hope that make sense DWL
11. What type of music do you listen to ?
I listen to a wide variety of music! I love my Reggae, Classic Soul and Kompa music oh gosh I LOVE THIS GENRE it is an amazing style of music out of Haiti.
12. Some people want to know, how do you write a song?
I honestly can’t put pen to paper and write like that. I see myself as an instrument just like the Guitar, if it’s not picked up and played by someone, then you won’t hear that beautiful music from it. In other words, I am driven by a higher force. Sometimes and entire song will come to me like as if it was already written. When I am forced to put lyrics like that together, it does not feel as real.
Not right now because I mostly accompany myself with the Guitar.
14. Music, movies they all come together these days. Any plans for movies?
Actually, acting was my major in performing arts school 🙂 I would definitely venture into that field if given the opportunity to do so. I love acting!
15. Has any of your music been used in any movie project?
YES!!! (LOL) I think this is one of my greatest achievement to date . I’m elated! I composed a track in 2006 Titled “KNOW MY FRIENDS” the instrumental was used in Whitney Houston Biopic which was released on January 17, 2015.
16. Would you do an out of the box strategy similar to Tessanne Chin, in order for your music to go to the level you want?
I’ve been advised to do so long before Tess but I honestly hate competing with other talents. We grow vain and bitter when we have to compare ourselves with others. Life must and will provide me with a platform to get my music out without competing. 🙂
17. If not music what would Phil be doing ?
Teaching drama and music in a primary school.
18. If there is one thing people would be surprised to know about you what would it be?
I honestly can’t find anything surprising about myself ( DWL). Honestly Ive been thinking hard to come up with sum’m 🙂 maybe our next interview I might discover new things about me (LOL).
19. Are ladies attracted by your music first or your looks first THEN your music?
I would say my looks first, and I’m not being conceited 🙂 sometimes I wonder if these women even pay attention to my music (LOL). On a serious note, if I don’t stay focus I will get distracted by all the attention from these beautiful women especially on these social media .The good thing is that they are the ones who mostly support my music.
20. When the guitar is down and you relax at home what can we expect to see you doing?
Just enjoying my beautiful family. We have games night that consists of playing dominoes, ludi and watching movies. My sons taught me a new game recently called Soccer Tennis, and I love it!! Oh and my therapy is Fishing it relaxes me, as well as tending to my backyard garden.
Phil recently released a new music with video entitle “Broken Promises”. It gives the listener a powerful and sobering insight on reality. Phil’s music spoke for the disgruntled and the voiceless, the ones that constantly pay the price of political warfare. I listened to the song and immediately it took me to the time when the great Bob Marley wrote his prophetic lyrics and preached through his music and you had no choice but to listen.
So it is with Broken Promises“. When you listen to the lyrics you feel the struggle, the pain and the countless broken promises made. Where words fail, music speaks. Charles Darwin said..
“if the misery of the poor is caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions and politics, great is our sin.”
Broken Promises is saying just that. Great is our sin as the people are in pain inflicted through broken promises. Phil is using his voice to speak where words often fail. He is the messenger speaking for the voiceless and like Bob, his music will live for eternity. It was Bob that said reggae music is the newspaper of the poor people. Yes, reggae is the newspaper of the poor and the voiceless and Phil has become its new editor.
Video: Broken Promises– by Ajani Gamba (Phil Watkis) . Find Phil Watkis on Facebook: Visit his page and see his other music available on ITUNES as well.
(c) 2015- 876iconsNvoices.