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After decades in music, artist puts out his first solo

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Star 45, pictured, is part of a group trying to keep reggae alive in Bermuda (Photograph supplied)

After decades in the music business John Henry Darrell is finally putting out a song under his alias, Star 45.

He is planning to debut Herbivore on Friday, at Reggae Defenders’ musical tribute to Peter Tosh and Garnett Silk.

“They call me ‘The Voice’ sometimes,” he said. “I actually used to sing Barry White songs with a band that I used to practice with in Mount Area in St David’s. I played reggae songs here and there but what they really liked was when I did Practice What You Preach and songs like that.”

His talent got him onstage with Louis Farrakhan, when the head of the Black nationalist group Nation of Islam spoke on the island. Star 45 also performed with Patra when the reggae artist had a concert here and was also a member of the band Sight and Sound. He scored a hit in 2009 with County Game Anthem, one of many songs he put out with Bermuda Tri.

His interest began in high school in the 1980s when he would play around with “a little studio and a microphone”.

“Later on we used to rap and stuff and then I found myself gravitating towards the reggae vibes, the reggae sound, and I just started writing. I did a lot of writing and I had a couple of songs out along the way,” he said.

At the moment he is working on putting out good tunes with “a positive message”.

“I've always written. Stuff pops into my head, I write it down and later I record it. But I haven't actually recorded anything for a little while. I have a book of songs and I keep telling myself I need to go and press record. So I've linked up with Detrimental and I'm going to go and do something up there this week.”

Local group Reggae Defenders will celebrate the music of Garnett Silk and Peter Tosh at Uplift on Front Street on Friday

He is also looking forward to celebrating Silk, who died in 1994 while trying to rescue his mother from a fire.

“He was iconic in the history of reggae music. He didn't last long, he passed away at 28, but in those 28 years he was very busy. And he was very positive; quite influential. He was a hitmaker and very conscious.”

While younger people might not be familiar with the Jamaican, the messages in hits like Hello Africa and Fill Us Up With Your Mercy have value today, Star 45 said.

“He has a message and I would urge young people to go on YouTube and just take in a couple of Garnett’s songs, see where it leads you.

“He has an original sound and his songs were quite poetic. You have some artists and they have two or three songs that you might like, that have a good message. But with him, he was a hitmaker.”

Local group Reggae Defenders will celebrate the music of Garnett Silk and Peter Tosh at Uplift on Front Street on Friday

Peter Tosh represents something similar for Reggae Defenders.

One of the original Wailers, he went on to become a successful solo artist with such hits as Legalise It, and Downpressor Man. He was shot dead during a home robbery in 1987.

“He had a rebellious image – he had nicknames like ‘Reggae Rebel’ and ‘Stepping Razor’- and he was not afraid to stand up for what he believed,” Star 45 said.

The local artist was about 15 when he joined Black Lion Sound, a sound system made up of guys from East Side in St George’s.

Years later he formed Reggae Defenders with Jawan “Lava Ras” Thomas and Mitchelle “Arijahknow Live Wires” Trott. All three were concerned that reggae was dying in Bermuda.

“We were always brethren; we were always good friends in the music world,” Star 45 said.

“In Bermuda there's few actual what I would call reggae sounds nowadays because reggae is almost going the way of disco. It's almost fading away and so what we try to do is keep it authentic; keep it conscious. We try to stay away from slackness and we try to defend the conscious side of it.”

Part of the problem is the “fast pace” of today’s world, the musician said.

“It’s hard to get my children to listen to Garnett Silk,” he laughed. “Because they’re just somewhere else; their influences are coming from other places. Reggae is just not out there as much.”

Local group Reggae Defenders will celebrate the music of Garnett Silk and Peter Tosh at Uplift on Front Street on Friday (Photograph supplied)

The group promotes the genre as best they can – with the radio show Reggae Defenders on Hott 107.5 from 8pm to 10pm every Thursday and through concerts at Uplift on Front Street.

“We look at the artist and then just try to give respect to him, respect and homage and honour,” he said.

Whether or not they know the artists, Star 45 encourages people to come out and enjoy great music on Friday.

“What we bring is a total experience, a total vibe. It’s a little bit of everything. Live artists will be there, we’ll have food, a cash bar, it’s $30 to get in. And like I said, it's no slackness. The last couple that we've had were well attended. Generally older people, although we’ve had a couple of younger people come through to check it out,” he said.

“In Bermuda we're limited with things to do. So I would urge people to come and check this out. It's a full experience, a total experience.”

• Healing of the Nation: A Musical Tribute to Peter Tosh and Garnett Silk takes place on Friday at Uplift on Front Street, 8pm to 2am. Tickets, $30, are available at both Uplift locations. The show will feature live performances, door prizes and giveaways

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Published April 15, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated April 16, 2024 at 8:35 am)

After decades in music, artist puts out his first solo

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