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First Born, Exodus X111:2 is the title of the first CD of the Guyanese reggae group of the same name.
First Born is off for Jamaica early in the New Year, to launch its second CD, entitled `Confidence’.
And that is what this five-man organisation is bursting with.
These young musicians have forged themselves into a considerably musical unit, held together by the shared experiences of existence in communities dark and depressed.
For First Born, the chance to express in conscience music what troubles them calms the rage which could so easily flare in their breasts. In the place of what would have otherwise been a raging fire, there is now a calm and a beguiling humility, a realisation that there is much more to living than the sordid trappings of depressed living spaces.
And so they exorcise the demons of despair by articulating the injustices and shame, along with the hope of a shining land and a God who cares, a God of justice and love.
They do so in a capella style, held together by rhythm guitars and percussion.
Christmas season, jolly times
Christmas season, jolly times
All happy smiles and cheer
Let’s relax and have fun
As we near the end of year
For children a special time
And adults can feel so too
If in our hearts we can inculcate
Good values to hold as true
Let’s all give a happy time
As much as we can share
To be an example of peace and love
With good tidings to bear
For there are others who need
Our love and tender care
Who need a part of happiness
Who need what we can share
Our landscape’s green not white
As here can be no snow
But hearts are filled with warmth
And Santa’s seen on show
We have our trees and songs
And toys and lots to eat
Christmas means just as much
With lots of friends to greet
Our masquerade bands will roam
Flouncing in the streets
Their music gaily playing
Flutes, drums and catchy beats
Our mauby and our ginger beer
Black cake and special treats
The things we love to make
The many drinks and eats
And after all, above all
WE remember that special child
Whose birth is celebrated at this time
Who made it all worthwhile
Whose message of peace and love
And hearts full of care
Is most important to remember
As Christmas time we share.
- Patrick Noel Cheeks
The genre gets it name from the Yoruba word for rough, and though it has its genesis in Jamaica, it is just as relevant in this land of ours.
Back in 1997, when First Born lit up the reggae scene on stages in Guyana, audiences sat up and took notice of the disciplined performances and the seriousness of the message the singers proclaimed. Here was a group which indicated from the beginning that it could go places.
Their voices accommodate each other in sustained harmony and there is always the feeling of oneness and single-mindedness when one listens to their music.
In the beginning, First Born comprised members who were all the first born in their families. In the short time since they came together, there have been changes in personnel.
The leader of the band is now Troy Azor. The others are Rolston Richmond, Trayon Garrett, Lambert Semple and Shawn Williams. And they all tell the same story. They love to sing, they come from musical families, their singing ameliorates the resentment they would otherwise feel against what they term injustice and oppression and all this binds them together with a brotherly love that is not so evident in other groups.
First Born is managed by Wally Fraser, and Kevin Adonis is Road Manager.
Wally Fraser speaks of an extended stay in Jamaica when First Born goes there early in the New Year to launch its second CD.
He speaks of making valuable contacts in that mecca of reggae, with a view to taking his band to Europe, where reggae has caught on amazingly, and to Africa, where audiences are bemused at what the Caribbean has done with their own indigenous rhythms.
More likely than not, First Born will succeed. Driven by a strong, youthful desire to have their message heard and understood and with a vibrant talent, they could hardly not make it.