Winston Rodney, raised in St. Ann's, Jamaica, was guided into that country's burgeoning music scene by the town's most famous son. In 1969, Robert Nesta Marley arranged a meeting between Rodney and Coxsone Dodd, head of heralded reggae label Studio One. Dodd liked what he heard and booked studio time to record "Door Peep." Before the record was released, Rodney chose the name Burning Spear as his creative alias, paying tribute to Jomo Kenyatta, the African nationalist who became the first president of Kenya when it received independence in 1964.
Burning Spear's sound -- both then and now -- is rich and textured, with Rodney's chanted vocals serving as the centerpiece. The lyrics are textbook roots reggae, touching upon themes of righteous indignation at unjust oppression and the rich spirituality of Rastafarianism. In 1999, Spear released his 34th album, Calling Rastafari, and for the seventh time, he was nominated for a Grammy. Today, pushing 60, his performances are as powerful as they have ever been, despite rumors of his imminent retirement. That's your cue to catch a living legend while you have the chance. -- Scott Medvin
Burning Spear plays at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, and Thursday, July 29, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $15. Call 954-564-1074.
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