Burning Spear is an undisputed musical legend. Not a year goes by that he doesn’t release a blockbuster album or complete a successful tour. His concerts are events, and each subsequent record that he releases is greeted with eager anticipation by reggae fans everywhere.
Once in a great while, an artist emerges that has a profound effect on popular culture. Grammy Award-winning reggae pioneer Burning Spear is such an artist. A certifiable legend, Spear is celebrating 35 years in the music business and shows no sign of slowing down. His concerts regularly last over two hours, a live show that delivers more energy and vibrancy than many rock and roll bands that are half his age. Spear, who has been featured in Vanity Fair’s music issue, generates excitement from his message as well as his music.
Carrying the torch for the gospel of Marcus Garvey, Burning Spear is one of the single greatest proponents of self-determination and self-reliance for all African descendants, but his message is not exclusively based on the teachings of Garvey. Through his music, Burning Spear has consistently been able to educate, inform, and uplift people the world over with his positive message based on honesty, peace, and love.
Growing up in the parish of St Ann’s Jamaica, the same musical hotbed that produced Bob Marley and the Wailers, Burning Spear made his first recording of “Door Peep” in 1969 for the esteemed Studio One label. In fact, it was Bob Marley himself that referred Winston Rodney to Studio One. Shortly before the release of “Door Peep,” Rodney chose to release the recording under the name Burning Spear, a reference to Jomo Kenyatta, a political activist who championed for a free and democratic Kenya and went on to become the country’s first president after being charged and jailed for the Mau Mau insurrection.
As Spear recalls,"The way the whole thing came about is that I found myself moving along up in the hills of St. Ann’s and I ran into Bob [Marley] at the same time. And Bob was going to his farm. The man was moving with a donkey and some buckets and a fork, and cutlass and plants. We just reason man-to-man and I-man say wherein I would like to get involved in the music business. And Bob say,