Friday, April 8, 2005

Reggae singer Dezarie headlines two Oahu concerts. On Thursday, local openers The Ionz and Kamau join her at Pipeline Cafe; and on Friday, local performers Sahra Indio and Mama T, and Queen Paula with the One Love Ohana Band join her at Don Ho's Island Grill.

Feeling the power

Following her Hawaii debut last weekend on the Big Island and shows this week on Maui, reggae artist Dezarie (pronounced "Dez-a-ray") arrives on Oahu for a pair of concerts at Pipeline Cafe and Don Ho's Island Grill.

'A Tribute to the Lioness'

Featuring Dezarie with Ikahba and band

» 9 p.m. Thursday, with local openers The Ionz and Kamau, at Pipeline Cafe, 805 Pohukaina St.

» 9 p.m. Friday, with local openers Sahra Indio and Mama T, and Queen Paula with the One Love Ohana Band, at Don Ho's Island Grill, Aloha Tower Marketplace

Tickets: $22

Call: 589-1999 or 528-0807

Info: www.dezarie.com

Born on St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, she's no stranger to the island lifestyle and was looking forward to her visit when reached by telephone in California last week.

"I've never been to Hawaii before," she said. "It's a powerful place with the volcanoes ... the energies there are very high-powered."

NOW IN her late 20s, Dezarie got her introduction to music through visits to church in St. Croix with her parents.

"In church, my mother made me do it," she explained. "But in school it was fun, so I did it on my own."

During her second year of high school, a series of drastic changes turned her life upside down. Her parents decided to move overseas, while Dezarie opted to move in with her sister in Atlanta. Within a year of arriving in the United States, she had decided to strike out on her own.

"That was my choice to do so," she said. "It was very rough, a young girl in the city seeing and experiencing so many different things that I didn't know about."

The neighborhood she lived in had its share of drug and gang activity. Besides dealers making sales in the open and gun battles erupting on the streets, there were also issues of poverty and government corruption.

Drawing upon her love for music and a willingness to enlighten the masses, Dezarie began to get involved in the Atlanta music scene. After visiting with a number of disc jockeys and record producers, she had a tough decision to make -- stick with reggae, the music she loved, or make a go at being a R&B singer based on the advice of some in the industry.

"That's not really where my heart is," she said about the attempts to change her into a mainstream songstress. "I wanted to do roots music because I have a message to put out there."

WITH THE release of "FYA" in 2001, the singer began to make waves in the reggae community. She was recognized as Atlanta's "Best New Female Reggae Artist," and returned to St. Croix soon after to pursue a career in music.

In 2003, she followed up with "Gracious Mama Africa," a 12-song album that further explores her ideological beliefs and the influence of Rastafarian culture on her work.

"It's just awareness for humanity ... awareness of what's going on behind the scenes," she said of the album's message. "Some of the songs are uplifting songs, some of them are about the money issues and the job issues, and little tricks and scandals going on in government."

Tracks like "Poverty" and "Not One Penny" take aim at members of the upper class who refuse to help the less fortunate around them.

Others, like "Law Fe De Outlaw" and "Justice," urge listeners to live a life of righteousness and not to forget the consequences of their actions.

"Basically, I'm giving a warning," she said. "When you see someone doing something wrong ... their blood could be on your hands if you don't warn them about the things that they're doing and the dangers of doing it."

AS SHE approaches the end of an 18-city tour, Dezarie looks forward to returning to St. Croix and finishing up work on another album due for release this summer.

But when she's told that her concert on Friday will feature nothing but female artists, her interest is sparked at the prospect of an estrogen-filled evening.

"In the reggae business, it's mostly men who dominate the industry," she said. "It gets kind of lonely sometimes, because there's not too many females doing what I'm doing.

"I want all the women to come out -- I'm representing for all of us!"

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