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Bermuda-bound: Yami Bolo

Yami Bolo’s blood is pumping a little faster these days — he’s thrilled he’ll once again share the stage with his mentor Junior Reid.

The two Jamaican reggae artists will headline the Legend Bob Marley tribute concert at the Bermuda Athletic Association Gymnasium on February 7.

Both men go way back and Mr Bolo, whose real name is Rolando McLean, is looking forward to being reunited with an individual who had a profound influence on his own career.

“Junior Reid is my mentor,” he said. “The music of Junior Reid inspired me to be the Yami Bolo I am today. Like the great Sugar Minott, he always inspired me to be better in what I’m doing: faith, music or business.”

Other greats such as Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Jimmy Cliff have also helped shape Mr Bolo’s career.

“The list is very long as all played a great part in my musical development,” Mr Bolo added.

The upcoming event — organised by Veterans In Action — won’t be the first time that the two reggae artists have performed on the same stage.

“We have performed in the dance hall and a few shows before back in the day,” Mr Bolo said. “Junior Reid is my big brother, and I’m always willing to grace the stage with my musical family any time and anywhere.”

Mr Bolo is no stranger to the Island, having performed here on multiple occasions.

“I have performed in Bermuda before with Bunny Wailer and many other artists and it was good,” he said. “The people love the musical vibes we had brought to them.”

Asked what reggae fans might expect at next month’s show, Mr Bolo replied: “They can expect good songs, old and new, in a dance hall style.”

Perhaps no artist has had a bigger influence on Mr Bolo than the late great Sugar Minott, who took the former under his wing at a very young age.

“The great Sugar Minott saw greatness in me and he taught me how to be great; first killing soundboys in dubplate style, which has now become a way of life in the dance hall today,” Mr Bolo said. “He taught me music production, stamina in the business — so his influence is all over me within my singing and productions.”

Like many Jamaican artists, the Jamaican dance hall scene provided Mr Bolo with a platform to launch his career.

“Singing in the dance hall was the way for me to make a name for myself and also the route most artists take who don’t have a record deal,” he explained.

“For me it was a real adventure filled with excitement and competition.”

Mr Bolo has collaborated with some of reggae’s greatest artists and producers and has worked as an ambassador for the music genre all around the world.

He contributed to Damian Marley’s Grammy Award-winning album, Half Tree.

It was chosen as the Best Reggae Album in 2002.

“The Halfway Tree album caused us to be refered to as Grammy Yami,” Mr Bolo said.

“I am not so much in this fame or award thing, I just need to make good music and keep singing. However, I am grateful for the honours of collaboration on the musical project and for working with my brothers.”

Sharing his general thoughts on the modern day reggae industry, Mr Bolo said: “My thought is that it’s growing and will be bigger and bigger. It’s also growing in the direction the time chooses it to go.”

Next month’s tribute will also feature local singers Mitchell Trott, Ramon Clark and Rivah will perform renditions of the late Jamaican reggae star’s songs.

Music will also be provided by DJs Juggling Jason, Blackstar, Three the Hard Way and Deejay Cheeky from Playboy Sound while Junior C and Ninja Cutty will serve as masters of ceremony.

Tickets are $30 in advance and available at People’s Pharmacy, Fish ‘N Tings, Somers Supermart, Hunt’s Liquor, at Belvin’s Grocery’s Happy Valley and Vesey Street outlets, Scotty’s Liquor and online at www.bdatix.bm.