Photo: Yulissa Mendoza
Lupita Infante On Honoring Pedro Infante's Legacy & Moving Mariachi Forward With 'Amor Como En Las Películas De Antes'
On her second album, Lupita Infante continues putting her own twist on the mariachi music she grew up with while also speaking her truth: "You're going to hear really personal stories."
Since Lupita Infante started making music in 2018, she has dedicated her career to carrying her family's storied legacy. The granddaughter of Mexican icon Pedro Infante, the singer has put her own spin on traditional mariachi music while evoking the nostalgia of her grandfather's legendary music and movie career — and that's especially true on her second album, Amor Como En Las Películas De Antes.
Infante's latest LP is steeped in rich mariachi music. The Mexican vihuela, guitarrón, and cinematic strings conjure the music in grandfather's movies, but she makes the sound her own with bold confidence and powerful vocals. All of the songs are like vignettes in her soundtrack to love in all its forms: the dreamy "Besarte Así" describes a beautiful romance that feels lifted out of a script; on the flipside, Infante takes the power back in the heart-wrenching "Ya No Vuelvas," which sees a woman freeing herself from a toxic relationship.
Though Lupita has the Infante last name, following in her family's legacy was a journey she had to figure out on her own. Pedro Infante died in a tragic plane crash in 1957; her father, Pedro Infante, Jr. (who also was a famous actor), passed away in 2009. As she tells GRAMMY.com, Infante has been a student of her grandfather's: "From his work ethic, all the films that he left, and all the music, for me, that's been my school — listening to all of his recordings and interviews."
After years of gigging with various bands and honing her own style of mariachi music, she appeared on La Voz, a Latin spin-off of The Voice, in 2017. Two years later, she released her debut album, La Serenata, which earned Infante her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Regional Mexican Album in 2021. She's proven to continue making her mark, too, as she signed with Sony Music Latin last year.
"It's been a long road," Infante recalls. "I've had to find my own path. Even when I had started in my journey, my dad had already passed away, so I've been having all kinds of experiences from the beginning — good ones, bad ones — but luckily, I found a team of people who are incredible to work with, who have taught me so much, and have gotten me to this point today."
Infante is creating her own legacy in mariachi music and manifesting that through her songs. Before releasing Amor Como En Las Películas De Antes, she talked with GRAMMY.com about the stories behind some of the new songs, how she is paying homage to her family's history, and her future ahead.
How have your grandfather and father inspired your music?
Having a last name like Infante, I think it's opened a lot of doors for me to get in front of the right people or to get certain opportunities. At the same time, it's something that I can't take myself away from. Just growing in the career, I've always had in my mind and my heart that part of who I am, even with my performances and my recordings, it's always going to be some kind of tribute to my family. I'm just really proud and even blessed that I can do that, pay tribute to them in a way that also shares a little bit of my story too — but always, of course, giving the credit to how it all started for my grandfather and for my father too.
How are you putting your own stamp on the traditional mariachi music sound?
I feel like the sound of mariachi, it hasn't really changed a whole lot as far as arrangements and instrumentation goes. It's a very classic sound. On my new album, we did try to add certain instruments from music that's more commercial — adding the accordion or the sierreño guitar or requinto guitar.
There's even a song, "Quién No Ha Llorado Por Amor," where we added tuba instead of the guitarrón, just to change it up a little bit and give it different flavors of Mexican music. That song — which was produced by Luciano Luna and written by Omar Tarazón and myself in Mazatlán — I feel like that song has a very Sinaloa inspiration to it.
What was the inspiration for your new album Amor Como En Las Películas De Antes?
The title translates to "Love Like In the Old Time Movies." It's definitely inspired by this imagery of the collection of films that my grandfather has left us all. A friend of mine, Pedro Dabdoub, wrote this song called "Besarte Así." There's a line in there that says in Spanish: "In the old time movies, I saw this kind of love before."
Going through every song, going through every lyric, and trying to piece it together, that was a line that really spoke to me. You get all kinds of imagery from that line. I was really inspired by that and we kind of just ran with that.
Every song on the album is a love song. Some are about heartbreak. One is a love song about a car ["Mi Carrito"]. Some are talking about the perfect love. I wrote a lot of these songs before I was signed with Sony Music. I was just writing really because I wanted to talk about my feelings, and just share what I had inside. You're going to hear really personal stories.
In Regional Mexican music, historically women were presented before as damsels in distress. In your album and songs like "Ya No Vuelvas," you're showing all facets to a woman's perspective in the genre.
[We were] looking for some clips from movies from the '40s and '50s that we [could] tie in [with the music video]. Even looking at the way women are portrayed, it's very dramatic. It's like a damsel in distress, or she's mad, or she's in love. She's so emotional and kind of crazy.
It's fun to play around with those sentiments, but at the same time, it's really important to have that agency and control over what you want to express as a woman. [Like] with "Ya No Vuelvas," she's fed up with the guy's crap and she's going to let him know, and kick him out of here.
"Ya No Vuelvas" is one of your most raw vocal performances on the album. What you're feeling in that song comes through in your powerful vocals.
That's one of the songs, and "Quien No Ha Llorado Por Amor." They're songs that you go to this certain place in your heart and your soul and your Mexicanness, and you just pour it out and bring it out. It was probably one of the easiest songs to record with the least amount of takes. It was like, "Let me just get this feeling out," and that's how it came out.
"Mi Carrito" has a bit of a country music influence with it. Was that your way of bringing together the sounds of your Mexican and American backgrounds?
I definitely am. We wrote it in the pandemic, and we went to this cabin in the mountains. I think it just kind of sounded like the way it would sound if you're up there in the mountains and driving your car, because that was the only thing you could do.
Being in L.A., it's such a big car culture city. I think there's this big affinity that we have towards our cars, especially during that time — it was my only escape. ["Mi Carrito"] definitely has that country feel with the slide guitar and the fiddle, so it gives that mood.
"Pa Dentro" is a song that you wrote with another woman, Erika Vidrio. What does it mean to you to bring more women into the Regional Mexican music space?
I think it's important for women, in a sense, to form alliances and really support each other, and lift each other up. Even over the summer, Erika Vidrio, BMI and Amazon did a whole songwriter camp called Las Compositoras, and it was all women. It was just so much fun working with all different types of women — everyone coming from a different background and point-of-view. Maybe some women will be more rough and want to talk about real-life experiences and what they've been through. There's other girls who are more soft and gentle, and they want to talk more about love or hurt.
Even learning from every single person and their personalities and their writing styles, that's a lot of fun. Being part of events like that, and for us to create events like that, it's really important, especially for the future songwriters that are coming through as well. I think it's going to keep happening more and more. It's working, and it's good for us.
Throughout your career, you've shown support for the LGBTQIA+ community, who have historically been excluded from the Regional Mexican music scene. Why is it important for you to support that community?
At UCLA, I took a class about music in the LGBTQIA+ community. You had to pick an event to go to and write about it. Always appreciating mariachi, I was like, "I'm going to watch Mariachi Arcoiris at Tempo and I'm going to interview Natalia [Melendez], and see her experience and see what that's all about."
I [took] my mom with me to club Tempo. I didn't know what to expect. They would do this karaoke night back then, and people would come up and they're singing these songs that I've heard for years, but they're taking the meaning and making it mean something very specific to them, that speaks to them.
Honestly, it really transformed the way I see music and the way I saw the LGBTQIA+ community. Like the song "Vámonos" [by José Alfredo Jiménez], when I heard it being sung in that space, it had such a strong meaning for the person singing it. At the end of the day, we're all just people, and we all have feelings, and we just want to love and be loved, and I really got to see that and it was beautiful. I hope that if there is a song of mine that speaks to the LGBTQIA+ community that they would make it their own.
What can we expect from you this year?
We have a couple of live events going on throughout the year. I'm already starting on the next album. A lot of these songs [on Amor Como En Las Películas De Antes] were written quite a while ago, 2020 and 2021, so I'm looking to the future.
Nowadays music is just so instant. I think there's a certain magic about writing a song and producing it right away. I'm kind of channeling that energy for the next album. I'm just excited to keep making music.
What do you want to accomplish next with your music?
Part of it is just expression of self and culture. Another part of it, just keep making good quality music that stands the test of time. For it to become part of that mariachi repertoire.
That's always been my goal — I want to write music and create music that stays in the mariachi repertoire. When you have the mariachi come over and you say "play this song," hopefully it's one of mine.
Photo Courtesy of the Latin Recording Academy
Watch: El Fantasma, Los Dos Carnales & Lupita Infante Perform Live From Mexico City As Part Of The 2022 Latin GRAMMY Acoustic Sessions
Recorded at the Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral in Mexico City, the digital concert, presented by the Latin Recording Academy in partnership with Meta, includes never-before-heard collaborations and intimate conversations between all three artists.
The Latin Recording Academy is bringing the good vibes and good music straight to your screen with an exclusive performance from Latin GRAMMY nominee El Fantasma featuring by Latin GRAMMY winners Los Dos Carnales and Latin GRAMMY and GRAMMY nominee Lupita Infante.
The digital concert premiered today via the Latin Recording Academy's Facebook page, where it'll be available to view for 48 hours; afterward, the performances will also be available exclusively on the artists' Facebook pages for 90 days. The performance marks the launch of the Latin Recording Academy's 2022 Latin GRAMMY Acoustic Sessions, presented in partnership with Meta.
Watch the acoustic performance in full below.
Filmed at the renowned Centro Cultural Roberto Cantoral in Mexico City, one of the city's most architecturally significant venues, the digital concert mixes exclusive performances with unique storytelling. The 44-minute concert features renditions of songs chosen by the artists, never-before-heard collaborations and duets, and intimate conversations between all three artists, all set against a dramatic backdrop.
This performance puts the spotlight directly on the exploding Mexican Regional genre, which continues to grow online and around the world. El Fantasma, the vision of Mexican regional singer/songwriter Alexander Garcia, was noted as "part of the new wave of Mexillennials that you should really keep on your radar," Billboard reported in 2018. That same year, he and his group, y Su Equipo Armado, received their first-ever Latin GRAMMY nomination for Best Banda Album for En El Camino.
Los Dos Carnales is the Mexican norteño duo comprising brothers Imanol and Poncho Quezada. After exploding on the scene via their 2018 debut album Te Lo Dije, the group won the Latin GRAMMY for Best Norteño Music Album for Al Estilo Rancherón at the 2021 Latin GRAMMYs. Their most recent single "No Estaré Aquí" debuted earlier this year.
Mexican American singer/songwriter, Latin GRAMMY nominee, and GRAMMY nominee Lupita Infante is deeply versed in the traditional mariachi, ranchera and norteño traditions, which she has successfully adapted for the millennial and Gen Z generations. The granddaughter of iconic Mexican singer and actor Pedro Infante, she propels her family's musical legacy forward with her own esteemed career. In 2020, her single "Dejaré" was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY, and a year later, she received a GRAMMY nomination for Best Regional Mexican Album for La Serenata.
The Latin GRAMMY Acoustic Sessions began six years ago as a series of in-person events for small audiences offering intimate musical experiences combined with storytelling. In addition to showcasing established performers, the series aims to promote the new generation of up-and-coming talent focusing on diversity and equity within each genre. Two years ago, the Latin GRAMMY Acoustic Sessions added a global digital franchise, providing access to Latin musical excellence for all.
The next installment of the 2022 Latin GRAMMY Acoustic Sessions, a digital concert shot in São Paulo, Brazil, will premiere later this year. Additional details, including the full lineup, will be announced soon.
Photo: Justin Jackson /J3 Collection
Participating Talent For 63rd GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony Announced: Jhené Aiko, Burna Boy, Lido Pimienta, Poppy And More Confirmed
Streaming live internationally Sunday, March 14, via GRAMMY.com, the 63rd GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony will feature a number of performances by current GRAMMY nominees like Rufus Wainwright, Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science and many others
The Recording Academy has announced details for the Premiere Ceremony ahead of the annual GRAMMY Awards telecast this month.
Hosted by current three-time GRAMMY nominee Jhené Aiko, the Premiere Ceremony will feature a number of performances by current GRAMMY nominees, including: Nigerian singer, songwriter and rapper Burna Boy, jazz band Terri Lyne Carrington + Social Science, blues musician Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, classical pianist Igor Levit, Latin electropop musician Lido Pimienta, singer, songwriter and performance artist Poppy, and singer, songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright.
Kicking off the event will be a tribute performance celebrating the 50th anniversary of the classic Marvin Gaye track "Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology)". The special all-nominee ensemble performance will feature Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra, Thana Alexa, John Beasley, Camilo, Regina Carter, Alexandre Desplat, Bebel Gilberto, Lupita Infante, Sarah Jarosz, Mykal Kilgore, Ledisi, Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez, PJ Morton, Gregory Porter, Grace Potter, säje, Gustavo Santaolalla (Bajofondo), Anoushka Shankar, and Kamasi Washington.
Current nominees Bill Burr, Chika, Infante and former Recording Academy Chair Jimmy Jam will present the first GRAMMY Awards of the day. Branden Chapman and Bill Freimuth are the producers on behalf of the Recording Academy, Greg Fera is executive producer and Cheche Alara will serve as music producer and musical director.
Music fans will be given unprecedented digital access to GRAMMY Awards content with GRAMMY Live, which will stream internationally on GRAMMY.com and via Facebook Live, the exclusive streaming partner of GRAMMY Live. GRAMMY Live takes viewers behind the scenes with backstage experiences, pre-show interviews and post-show highlights from Music's Biggest Night. GRAMMY Live will stream all day on Sunday, March 14, including during and after the GRAMMY Awards evening telecast. IBM, the Official AI & Cloud Partner of the Recording Academy, will host GRAMMY Live for the first time entirely on the IBM Cloud.
The 63rd Annual GRAMMY Awards will be broadcast live following the Premiere Ceremony on CBS and Paramount+ from 8 p.m.–11:30 p.m. ET/5 p.m.–8:30 p.m. PT. For GRAMMY coverage, updates and breaking news, please visit the Recording Academy's social networks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
All of the Premiere Ceremony performers and the host are nominated this year, as are most of the presenters. Afro-Peruvian Jazz Orchestra for Best Latin Jazz Album (Tradiciones); Aiko for Album Of The Year (Chilombo), Best R&B Performance ("Lightning & Thunder" featuring John Legend) and Best Progressive R&B Album (Chilombo); Alexa for Best Jazz Vocal Album (Ona); Beasley with Somi With Frankfurt Radio Big Band for Best Jazz Vocal Album (Holy Room: Live At Alte Oper), Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album (MONK'estra Plays John Beasley), Best Arrangement, Instrumental or A Cappella ("Donna Lee") and Best Arrangement, Instrumentals and Vocals ("Asas Fechadas" with Maria Mendes); Burna Boy for Best Global Music Album (Twice As Tall); Burr for Best Comedy Album (Paper Tiger); Camilo for Best Latin Pop or Urban Album (Por Primera Vez); Carrington + Social Science for Best Jazz Instrumental Album (Waiting Game); Carter for Best Improvised Jazz Solo ("Pachamama"); Chika for Best New Artist; Desplat for Best Instrumental Composition ("Plumfield"); Gilberto for Best Global Music Album (Agora); Holmes for Best Traditional Blues Album (Cypress Grove); Infante for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) (La Serenata); Jarosz for Best American Roots Song ("Hometown"), Best Americana Album (World On The Ground); Kilgore for Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Let Me Go"); Ledisi for Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Anything For You"); Levit for Best Classical Instrumental Solo (Beethoven: Complete Piano Sonatas); Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) (Bailando Sones Y Huapangos Con Mariachi Sol De Mexico De Jose Hernandez); Morton for Best Gospel Album (Gospel According To PJ); Pimienta for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album (Miss Colombia); Poppy for Best Metal Performance ("BLOODMONEY"); Porter for Best R&B Album (All Rise); Potter for Best Rock Performance ("Daylight"), Best Rock Album (Daylight); säje for Best Arrangement, Instruments and Vocals ("Desert Song"); Santaolalla with Bajofondo for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album (Aura); Shankar for Best Global Music Album (Love Letters); Wainwright for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album (Unfollow The Rules); and Washington for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media (Becoming).
Click the below to view the program book for the 63rd GRAMMY Awards Premiere Ceremony.
Photo by Stephen Lashbrook
Living Legends: Stephen Marley On 'Old Soul,' Being A Role Model & The Bob Marley Biopic
On his new album of covers and originals, Stephen Marley recruited Bob Weir, Jack Johnson, Eric Clapton, and his own siblings. Marley spoke with GRAMMY.com about his multifaceted career, including supervising music for 'Bob Marley: One Love.'
Living Legends is a series that spotlights icons in music who are still going strong today. This week, GRAMMY.com spoke with eight-time GRAMMY winner Stephen Marley. The reggae multi-hyphenate is the youngest son of Bob and Rita Marley.
Stephen Marley is a reggae Renaissance man. An eight-time GRAMMY winning singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Stephen's nuanced releases retain an authentic Jamaican identity while organically incorporating a broad range of influences. His latest album, Old Soul, continues this boundary-blurring trajectory.
Primarily recorded during the pandemic inside a garage on a family farm in Florida, Old Soul brings renewed luster to reggae classics and standards by the Beatles, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra alongside stunning originals, each delivered with Stephen's warm rasp. It's an endearing and eclectic acoustic set, awash in filigreed guitar strums, tinkling piano keys, swirling flutes, and mesmerizing percussion patterns.
Old Soul’s reflective title track honors Stephen's musical inspirations — especially his father: "Fast forward to 1981, my dad moved on and so did I, inside I kept his songs alive, so they say I’m an old soul, tribute to the ones who made it all possible/inside me your legacy lives on." "Cool As The Breeze" is a heartrending tribute to Stephen’s son, reggae artist Jo Mersa Marley, who died of acute asthma exacerbation in December 2022 at just 31 years old.
Stephen continues to build upon his own esteemed legacy. The youngest son of Bob and Rita Marley, the 51-year-old's musical journey commenced at age 6 when he formed the Melody Makers with his older siblings, sisters Cedella and Sharon and brother Ziggy, the group’s leader. Rita managed the Melody Makers and Bob wrote their first single, 1979's "Children Playing in the Streets." In 1981 the spotlight shone on Stephen's precocious talents when he took the lead on "Sugar Pie."
A guitarist, percussionist, vocalist and songwriter with the Melody Makers, Stephen also assisted in the production of each of their albums including the GRAMMY winning Conscious Party (1989), One Bright Day (1990) and Fallen Is Babylon (1997). He went on to helm the production on projects by several Marley family members including youngest brother Damian’s GRAMMY winning albums Halfway Tree and the influential blockbuster Welcome To Jamrock.
Stephen’s long-awaited, self-produced debut solo album, the multi-genre spanning Mind Control arrived in early 2007 followed in late 2008 by the stripped-down Mind Control Acoustic — both GRAMMY recipients. Stephen dropped another GRAMMY winner, Revelation Part I The Root of Life as a celebration of roots rock reggae, in 2011. Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life, released five years later, incorporates various styles that have emanated from reggae's core.
Old Soul is Stephen’s first full-length project since 2016 and he’s recruited an outstanding cast of collaborators including Grateful Dead founding member Bob Weir, singer/songwriter Jack Johnson, rock-reggae outfit Slightly Stoopid, his brothers Ziggy and Damian and Eric Clapton, whose bold, bluesy guitar riffs color Bob’s "I Shot the Sheriff," became a No. 1 hit for Clapton in 1974.
GRAMMY.com recently spoke to Stephen Marley about his illustrious, multi-faceted career including his most recent role as music supervisor for the upcoming Marley biopic, Bob Marley: One Love, due in theaters on Feb. 14.
Please tell me about the process of recording the Old Soul album.
It was during the thick of COVID-19; the walls were closing in so to speak. My uncle said "we need a farm" because we didn’t know what the next day would bring in terms of the control the government had. So, we looked and found a little farm.
During that time, I was very much distracted [with regards to making music], but when we came down to the farm, it was nature, escape and I caught back a groove. Old Soul wasn’t what we set out to do, but because of the circumstances, we started jamming in the garage and, well, it felt good, so we said, let’s give the people something to soothe them.
The choices of cover versions on Old Soul are fascinating. How did you decide which songs you would cover?
"Don’t Let Me Down" was suggested by [producer] Salaam Remi, he thought that song would fit in the acoustic style. I know that song from sister Marcia [Griffiths], she did an old version of it; I didn’t really know it was a Beatles tune. [Laughs.]
Most of the others are songs that I play in solitude or just go to songs like "Georgia On My Mind" or "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)." It was just part of getting back in the groove, with songs I would sing anyway. I love those songs; it doesn’t matter where they come from.
You also cover reggae classics. "Thanks We Get (Do Fi Dem)" featuring Buju Banton, is a Lee "Scratch" Perry composition initially recorded with his band the Upsetters in 1970. When was the first time you heard that song?
I first heard that song from Reggie [Upsetters’ guitarist Alva "Reggie" Lewis] singing it to me; I had never heard the record.
Reggie is one of the persons credited with teaching my father how to play guitar. This man lived among us, he was always at the [Bob Marley] museum, at [the Marley family-owned] Tuff Gong [studios] and at one point, he stayed at my house, too. He was always singing, "look what we do fi dem, this is the thanks we get, what an ungrateful set," that’s how I knew it; I never listened to the record until I was going to record it; that’s when I discovered that Scratch wrote it.
"There’s A Reward" is a poignant, motivational song, written by Wailers mentor Joe Higgs, who taught Bob, Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh how to harmonize. Can you share some of your memories of interacting with Joe Higgs over the years?
From child to young adult until him move on [Higgs passed away in 1999], he was always encouraging. I vividly remember those days when he would come and see my dad. He was like an uncle, he always showed love and encouragement.
Doing that song was definitely one of the highlights of the album for me and Ziggy as well but I really didn’t know the song before recording the album. It really moved me, and I heard the similarities between him and Bob, so I said, yeah, I have to record that one.
Old Soul’s title track was originally written by Jamaican singer/songwriter OMI. What changes did you make to the song’s lyrics?
The song, as he wrote it, was pretty similar to what’s on the album, but it never had my birth year in it, when I graduated, all of those facts. In that sense, I put my life into it, but it already had Bob and Peter in the lyrics ("I knew every Nesta Marley line/You knew that Peter Tosh was fly, in diamond socks and corduroy").
OMI is a great songwriter, and the song was about people who influenced him, "tribute to the ones who made it possible," so he was already paying homage.
Your song "Let The Children Play" on Old Soul references the Melody Makers’ first single "Children Playing In The Streets." What are some of your fondest memories of your years with the Melody Makers?
It is such a significant part of our lives, so any memory puts a smile on our faces. One of my fondest memories is, there’s a place in Half Way Tree in Kingston called Skateland and every Saturday we would perform there. One Saturday, our dad came and watched us, and we didn’t know he was there until after. He wrote our first song, he was pretty into us. He wasn’t a man that would tell you too much, but he would tell his friends, "Yeah, them youth go on good," he was very proud of us.
The integrity that goes into our music has never changed. From the time we were kids singing "Children Playing in the Streets," we were always singing social songs, meaningful music. I am 51 now, so do the math.
As the music supervisor of the upcoming Bob Marley: One Love biopic, do you choose which songs are used or how they are used in the film?
I don’t choose alone in that sense. The movie is set in a time period, it’s not Bob’s whole life. There are scenes where he is remembering, and you see him when he is young, but the movie focuses on the Smile Jamaica concert (Dec. 5, 1976), the One Love Peace Concert (April 22, 1978) and the songs he was working on in those times. Anything to do with the music in the film runs through me.
I just came back from California to finish up some of the music. We did the music before the actual filming. What you will be hearing has to coincide with what you are seeing; like the live concerts, if the drummer hits the drum, you have to hear the beat at the same time. Some of the music was re-recorded for the film. Like "Smile Jamaica" is a live recording so we had to do some live overdubbing for the quality and the experience in the theater. It has been a great learning experience for me as well.
You produced the Celebrating Nina: A Reggae Tribute To Nina Simone EP featuring exclusively female artists, released in 2022; Nina Simone is an artist that you enjoy listening to. Who are some of the other artists you listen to when you have time to relax?
I listen to Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown. When I was 17, 18, those were the songs that played in my car. As far as our music, people like Toots, Burning Spear, Culture, Steel Pulse — all of those elders were great, and are still great musicians.
Your 1999 production Chant Down Babylon paired rappers with your father’s vocals on hip-hop renditions of his classic songs, such as the Roots on "Burnin’ and Lootin,’" Chuck D on "Survival a.k.a. Black Survivors." Was the album successful in terms of better acquainting the hip-hop community with your dad’s music?
It very much accomplished what I set out to do, especially with the young artists at that time. Lauryn Hill was a staple. I have a lot of testimonies from people about that. People discovered Bob’s "Turn Your Lights Down Low" because Lauryn was on the track.
Have you considered doing an updated version of Chant Down Babylon?
It’s funny you bring this up because Cedella [Cedella Marley, CEO, Bob Marley Group of Companies] just asked me if I can bring it together for Bob’s 80th birthday. It’s too early for details but definitely Chant Down Babylon 2 is on the table.
Damian’s 2004 single "Welcome to Jamrock" won a GRAMMY for Best Alternative Hip-Hop Performance, to date, he’s the only Jamaican artist to be so honored. The single was praised for its gritty lyrics depicting the politically divisive violence in Kingston’s poorest communities, while your production merged hip-hop percussion with swaggering reggae and influenced Jamaican artists including Chronixx, Protoje, and Koffee. How does it feel to have had such a profound impact on a younger generation of artists?
It is a great feeling to have your music recognized. I had the privilege of being around great musicians and engineers, the best of the best, so it is really passing down those lessons, showing what I’ve learned. To influence the youths coming up is a really great feeling but at the same time, I take it as a "we" thing, more than "I" did this.
Did you delay the release of your debut album Mind Control until 2007 because of the success of Welcome to Jamrock?
Yes. At the time, I was kind of conflicted: Did I want to stick to producing or become a solo artist, so to speak? Being in the Melody Makers from age 7 to then having kids and still being in the Melody Makers, I had to get used to it being about Steve.
So, I decided to put time aside and focus on my record, but it was very important to me to first make sure Damian, my youngest brother, was good. We are very close and if him was alright, then I can focus on myself. Before Mind Control, I put out a teaser, Got Music? "Winding Roads" was on that, but it didn’t make the album.
"Winding Roads" fits in beautifully on Old Soul.
Yes, that’s why I always tell my children that music is a timeless thing so don’t give up on any inspiration or creation.
How did Jack Johnson and Bob Weir come to be featured on "Winding Roads"?
My manager always liked the song, and he has a relationship with them. Bob Weir and Jack heard the song and were willing to be a part of it. I went to Bob’s studio, he is a great man, and a true musician. We did a few jams, but "Winding Roads" was the one he gravitated towards.
You released Revelation Part I: The Root of Life in 2011 — which included the anthem "Jah Army" — as a showcase of the revolutionary sentiments and musical excellence intrinsic to reggae. At that time, those standards were overshadowed by the widespread criticism of X-rated lyrics in some dancehall hits. In the 12 years since, have you seen any significant progress in quality Jamaican reggae receiving the recognition it deserves?
I do see a difference. As you mentioned, the youths them that rise up — Chronixx, Protoje, etc. — The Root of Life was a calling for that generation. Over the past 12 years, technology has progressed, social media, how people put products out there now is really different….The quality music is there but you really have to search for it because there are so many distractions.
That was one of the reasons for making the Old Soul record; it wasn’t a reggae album so to speak, but our Jamaican spirit is in the music. When people hear it, it shifts their meditation, appealing to a part of them that is kind of suppressed because of all of the distractions that are going on.
Photo: Courtesy of Jeremy Dutcher
Global Spin: Watch Jeremy Dutcher Deliver An Empowering Performance Of "Pomawsuwinuwok Wonakiyawolotuwok"
Two-spirit Indigenous musician Jeremy Dutcher performs a captivating performance of "Pomawsuwinuwok Wonakiyawolotuwok (People Are Rising)," a resistance song from his latest LP, 'Motewolonuwok.'
As a two-spirit Indigenous person, Canadian musician Jeremy Dutcher knows judgment lurks on every corner. It's brought resilience to their life and a drive to fight against it, and they're more than ready to invite more to join the ongoing revolution.
"People are rising/ So, we stand up," Dutcher sings on the outro of "Pomawsuwinuwok Wonakiyawolotuwok (People Are Rising)," strategically using English to welcome listeners beyond his Wolastoq community.
In this episode of Global Spin, Dutcher performs a stripped-down performance of the track on the piano, allowing his fiery vocals to move the performance.
"Pomawsuwinuwok Wonakiyawolotuwok (People Are Rising)" is the "resistance song for all voices" on Dutcher's new album, Motewolonuwok. In a press statement, they explain that "Motewolonuwok," or "witch," is a phrase commonly used for two-spirit people: "They're the people of great spiritual power. The honor and the strength of that, rather than it being something to be ashamed of."
Dutcher will close out 2023 with the final two shows of his Motewolonuwok Tour, which see him returning to his home country. He'll make two stops in Ontario: St. Catharines on Dec. 7, and Toronto on Dec. 9.
Press play on the video above to watch Jeremy Dutcher advocate for change with this performance of "Pomawsuwinuwok Wonakiyawolotuwok," and check back to GRAMMY.com for more new episodes of Global Spin.