Music

Roots reggae with consciousness

Alexander Kofi Washington steers Jah Kings to greater heights than before

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 1/9/19

Jah Kings is returning to Taos to transmute, transform and make a New Year paradigm shift with its "world class, socially conscious, highly danceable, funk-infused roots reggae sounds" ...

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Music

Roots reggae with consciousness

Alexander Kofi Washington steers Jah Kings to greater heights than before

Posted

Jah Kings is returning to Taos to transmute, transform and make a New Year paradigm shift with its "world class, socially conscious, highly danceable, funk-infused roots reggae sounds" Friday (Jan. 11), from 8-11 p.m., at the Taos Mesa Brewing Mothership, 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Cover is $10.

Alexander Kofi Washington is the power behind this throne of sound, and serves as principal songwriter. Tempo interviewed the charismatic leader. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

Tempo: How do you describe the sound of your band?

Alexander Kofi Washington: The Jah Kings sound is like a fabulous fine-built mansion whose foundation is conscious roots reggae with funk, jazz and blues built on top, with deep Native American expressions built on top of that. Our song "Wounded Knee" expresses this sentiment most strong.

Tempo: Where does the name of the band come from?

Washington: The name of the Jah Kings comes from our African Hebrew ancestors who called the Divine Masculine Creator Yahweh the One, the Many, the Many and the One, which comes from other great names such as Aten, Tetragrammaton and the One Infinite Supreme Principal of The Universe. So, we are the kings of both the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine some call the Blessed Mother Shekinah.

Back in 1989, I was forming the group in Kalamazoo, Mich., and while at my then mother-in-law's house I was approached by her friend's daughter Lynn McBride, who championed handicap accessibility at her high school in Battle Creek, Mich. Lynn came when I was deciding a name for the band. My choices were the Jah Kings, Jah Children, and Dread Beat and Blood suggested by a band member. She chose Jah Kings. Lynn was wheelchair-bound as a paraplegic and passed away a year later after having a seizure near a creek behind her mother and father's house. I chose Jah Kings to celebrate Lynn.

Tempo: Of what are you most proud?

Washington: What I am most proud of is being a good father, husband, friend, brother, bandleader and counselor to those of my relatives who seek me out for help. I am also proud of having been a Sundancer and youngling at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, under the guidance of Sundance Chiefs Wesley Black Elk and Gerald Ice/Crazyhorse. And, being an Ordained Priest of the Order of Melchizedek.

Both being a Sundancer and an Ordained Priest of Melchizedek mandates unconditional love and service whether it be the security for the chiefs, to make sure that the elders, women and children are fed and protected, or being our brother's or sister's keeper while honoring Mother Earth. I am also proud that I was blessed to visit Ghana, West Africa, in 2007 for three months sponsored by Emmanuel Khonua Quarshie and Enoch's Family. There I took part in the Joseph Project where I was received by the Ministry of Diasporian Relations through the government of Ghana, wrote my family's name on the "Door of No Return" at the Slave Fort Cape Coast Castle, sang a song [about] Afrikan Diaspora on national TV, and was received by Ewe grandmothers and aunties who proved that I was Ghanaian by blessing I with the name "Kofi," which means "Friday Born" when I didn't even know I was born on Friday! This was not only major healing for me, but also for my family both at home in the United States and in Ghana!

Tempo: What can our readers expect from your upcoming show in Taos?

Washington: What those reading this article can expect is a most joyously high vibrating rootically musical time! Our music is of the celestial order, answering the celestial call where "singers and players of instruments shall lead the way" to bring together the 'collective messiahship," the collective Christed Souls. Where we shall experience a mutual baptism of love and light at the Mothership! Together, through our music, what our Oglala Lakota Family calls the Oliwan Waste/Good Music, we shall blast an electromagnetic pulse of love and light from us that could be measured above earth. This is essential now for our world needs love so as expressed through our song and title cut of our upcoming CD, "You."

Tempo: Anything else you think is important for our readers to know?

Washington: What I would like to say to the people of Taos is that Taos, and the four corners region, is energetically and metaphysically in resonance with Egypt, the Himalayas, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Stonehenge, and other power places in the planet.

For more on the show, call the venue at (575) 758-1900 or visit taosmesabrewing.com.

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