a-miracle

Tracklist

  1. Riddim Hold Dem
  2. Defender Of Beauty (feat. Marcia Griffiths)
  3. Free Rider
  4. Gone A Cemetery
  5. Liberation Call
  6. A Miracle (feat. Judy Mowatt)
  7. Hold Your Head Up
  8. Jah Defend The Music
  9. Born Again
  10. Cupid's Arrow

Groundation’s exciting new album, A Miracle, is a boundary-busting breakthrough for the group that has been called America’s finest reggae-based band. It includes a return to the studio for the legendary Judy Mowatt and Marcia Griffiths of Bob Marley’s peerless I Three vocal trio, who each lend their gorgeous voices to duets with group founder, Harrison Stafford; as well as album layout and design by Marley’s Art Director Neville Garrick.

“Our sound is meant to challenge our listeners spiritually, socially and musically to think outside the box,” explains Harrison. “It’s our strength and (perhaps) our weakness. No matter the context, we’re going to sound outside the box, and we’re passionate about it. We try to do things that are not expected.”

The jazzy feel of this, their eighth album, is a tribute to the training the four founding members of the band received at Sonoma State University in Northern California, where each received a degree in jazz performance. “We realized that reggae had the capaciousness to be the underpinning for other types of music. We really loved things like the modal changes of Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, and used that template in our jam sessions at school covering reggae’s classic songs. Our first two albums were engineered by fellow students at Sonoma State. The third album, Hebron Gate, really broke us internationally, especially in Germany, France and Brazil, leading us to work with some of the masters of the form like Ras Michael, Don Carlos, Ijahman and other reggae greats.

A Miracle is composed of some long songs challenging the audience with lyrics about how to build a more progressive and hopeful society, shine a light on the future and say we can really step beyond all these current problems the world is facing. It’s also largely about the relationships of man and woman. Like in‘Gone A Cemetery,’ we take the woman’s perspective of raising a child and the difficulties when the kids sometimes get involved in a bad situation. The title track speaks of the female and male roles in balancing life. It’s about the empress who inspires the man, inspiring him to do things. It is in a family that man has a real identifiable purpose.”

The band was especially thrilled to have succeeded in getting Judy Mowatt back into a popular music environment, after years of being a gospel artist in Jamaica following Bob Marley’s passing. “She was thinking of how she missed those old musical days,” reveals Harrison, “and she admitted that she wants to sing over the old one drop riddims once more. She’s got a new fire beginning to roar in her again.”

Liberation Call and Hold Your Head Up are anthems for the new century urging the youth to take to the streets and stand up for freedom no matter where they are, and not leave it to the next generation. The latter song is the first excursion into an uptempo ska sound for Groundation. A Miracle is one of the band’s finest works ever and sure to earn them a wealth of new listeners. –Roger Steffens