RAS ROJAH'S INTRO TO JOE HIGGS

Joe Higgs has been a personal bredren of mine since I first met him at Jimmy Cliff's house in Kingston in 1976. My wife Mary and I had arrived in that strifetorn city shortly after embattled Prime Minister Michael Manley had declared a national State of Emergency. We had been led to Cliff's large but aging home on Lady Musgrave Road by a young reggae wannabe who insisted we'd be welcomed, unannounced. Jimmy's open-armed greetings confirmed that promise. An amiable Cliff introduced us to his band members, who were scattered about a bare room, rehearsing. They included the legendary guitarist Earl "Chinna" Smith, and a man Jimmy referred to in a deeply respectful tone as "The Godfather of Reggae." This was Joe Higgs, the highly regarded Trench Town singer and mentor, who had taught a host of future international stars their first lessons: musicians like Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh, the Wailing Souls, and dozens of others. Twenty years later we're neighbors in Los Angeles, and Joe is helping mold yet another generation of enthusiastic young musicians now, this time in America. He plays clubs on the beaches occasionally around town, tours Japan (where they recognize his stature perhaps more than Jamaica does), still writes stunningly imaginative song and basks in a reluctant pride as he witnesses the accomplishments of those he brought to the fullness of their potential. Joe Higgs is considered one of the prime "jazz connections" for Jamaican music. Did you know he's the one who wrote "Stepping Razor"? In May of 1996, Joe was honored by Martin's International Reggae Awards with his induction into the Reggae Hall of Fame.