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Winter Reggae In Paradise

Date: January 8, 2006
Time:  4:00 p.m. until
Location: Cramer’s Park - St. Croix, USVI
Artists: Midnite, Dezarie, Ikahba, Ronnie Benjamin, Sr., Army, Abja, NiyoRah, Ancient King, NiyoRah, Asher, Massiah, Volcano, Daddy Locks & More artists TBA
Tickets: $20.00 – Children Under 5 - Free

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Come celebrate life to the fullest at the first annual Winter Reggae In Paradise Festival.  This musical communion will showcase some of St. Croix’s finest roots reggae artists including Midnite, Dezarie, Ikahba, Ronnie Benjamin, Sr., Army, Abja, Ancient King, NiyoRah, Massiah, Volcano, Asher, Daddy Locks and more artists TBA. 

January 8, 2006, is the date for this one day musical extravaganza that will be held on the beach in paradise.  Tickets will be available at the gate, or may be purchased in advance from Natural Mystic located in Sunny Isle (across from Western Auto). (340) 772-1848.

This event will feature no less than five (5) hours of music from Midnite and the Afrikan Roots Lab crew.  Below is some information on getting to and staying in paradise.  For additional information, please contact Natural Mystic (340) 772-1848.  Blessed love, and I look forward to meeting all of you in paradise next month.

Getting to paradise is easy with the assistance of Global Tours.  Ms. Daniel is just a phone call or email away and is ready to assist you with all your needs regarding travel and accommodations:

Global Tours- Travel Agent
Contact:           Celia Daniel or Sonia Martinez
Telephone:       (340) 778-6600
Hours:              8:30- 5:00  (M-F)
                       9:00-1:00   (Sat.)

If you’ve already secured your ticket to paradise, you may want a means to get around the island once you arrive. Mrs. Shillingford works at Budget Rent A Car, and has a car waiting for you (but you better grab it soon).  Make sure to mention that you are coming to paradise for some winter reggae:

Budget Rent A Car- St. Croix
Telephone:        (340) 778-9636
                        (888) 264-8894

Ferry transportation to this event will be available from neighboring islands.  Stay tuned for more information on getting to paradise from St. Thomas, St. John and Tortola. 

BIOS: (Courtesy of, &

Hailing from the Island of St Croix, Midnite is one of the most promising roots reggae bands of the millennium. They are vanguards of conscious reggae who represent the King's and Queen's music to the fullness of Jah. Midnite's profound and innovative lyrics are sincere and deeply rooted to present the other half of the story. Their CD recordings and live performances will have reggae and non reggae listeners open to the messages they bring.

Lead singer Vaughn Benjamin's electrifying voice seems an amalgamation of many great voices in reggae--soulful, chanting, edgy. Vaughn's potent lyrical style and his brother Ron's exquisite keyboards, background vocals and musical directorship form the nucleus of this musical quintet which includes Ryan Wilson on bass, Jerry Simon on guitar and Puerto Rico’s Christian 'Sly' Molinna-Curet on drums.  Midnite weaves the cultural lyrics of "old school" roots music with modern day experiences to create a unique listening encounter. Reggae - naked and raw is an apt description for Midnite's musical style, in which they forgo the frills of extensive remixes, overdubbing and other musical refinements. Formed in the late 80's, Midnite returned to STX in 2000, after having spent some years in Washington D.C.  Since then, roots music has not been the same.

There is refreshingly clean and pure new sound sweeping across the Caribbean.  Emerging from the Virgin Island of St. Croix comes Dezarie, the roots artist whose hypnotic and tantalizing voice are featured on her critically acclaimed 2001 debut album FYA.   This collaboration between I Grade Records and the Midnite band features 15 killer tracks that resonate with pure consciousness.  Dezarie has a mesmerizing voice that is more reminiscent of music originating from Africa than reggae.

After receiving Atlanta's "Best New Female Reggae Artist" award in 2001, Dezarie returned to her native island of St. Croix. Since that time, she has been working closely with Midnite, the fruits of which can be heard on "Gracious Mama Africa". Released on the Afrikan Roots Lab label in 2003, this album further germinates the lyrical seeds planted on FYA

Gracious Mama Africa transports the incredible voice of Dezarie to a whole new level - the highest heights.  Midnite's trademark sound is fully displayed on this album, which was given Ireggae’s award for “Best Album of 2003”. Momentous bass lines, classic one-drop drumming and the bubbling of Ron Benjamin on keyboards prevail throughout, accentuated by charismatic guitar playing. This will be the first time Dezarie sings for the people of St. Croix in over two years.

is the latest artist to emanate from the roots caldron currently bubbling on the island of St. Croix. His debut album ‘Troddin To Zion' was released in January of 2004 on the Afrikan Roots Lab label. Like all ARL releases, "Troddin" features the preeminent roots band Midnite laying down some wicked bass lines and rhythms. Add a heavy dose of conscious lyrics along with Ron Benjamin’s unique engineering skills and you’ve got the recipe for a real cruzial album.

What distinguishes Ikahba is his ability to intersperse his cool soothing vocals (that many people find similar to Tenor Saw) with some chanting in which Ikahba throws down lyrics fierce and hard. Fellow Afrikan Roots Lab recording artist Mash joins Ikahba on the selection "Dem Skylarkin", with Dezarie sharing vocals on the title track. The outstanding harmonies and subtle background vocals give the entire album an ‘easy-listening’ roots feel to it, yet the lyrics are piercing and spellbinding.

Ronnie Benjamin, Sr.
is a well rounded craftsman that is skilled in song writing, musical arrangements and all production aspects of music.  He is President of Sunburst Productions Ltd., based in Antigua, and has been playing music for over 35 year. This will be his first performance in St. Croix in 16 years.

Ronnie Benjamin has released numerous albums on vinyl, including 'Celebration Time' in 1983 and 'Changes' in 1985.  His first CD 'Reggae Fever' was put out by Nesak International in 1991.  Several hurricanes later, Ronnie Benjamin released Life Is Like A Maze.  Some of Ronnie Benjamin's older materials are gathered together on The Early Sounds.  In 2000, he journeyed to St. Croix to record Second Chance with his sons: Midnite's Vaughn and Ron Benjamin at Afrikan Roots Lab

Army (Fritzmaurice Williams) was born and raised on St. Croix, Virgin Islands. He began his musical journey at the age of five as a member of the youth choir at the church his family attended. Little did he know that he was laying the foundation for what would become a very promising musical career. Determined to explore a variety of styles, he learned to play the saxophone, became a member of a jazz band and sang in various local bands. After relocating to the New York City, completing his education, and serving in the US Army (which is how he got his name), Army returned home and became deeply involved in the local reggae scene.

In the early 70's, Jamaica was bubbling with an incredible amount of untapped musical and vocal talents. That same level of energy, enthusiasm and potential is present today in the Virgin Island of St. Croix. Army is to be counted among the many conscious singers and players of instruments from St. Croix who are worthy of international recognition. The voice of Army first surfaced several years ago on the famously vital (though obscure) compilation “Eastbound”. Soon after, Army contributed several selections to the “Homegrown” compilation album. In 2000, Army's first album -”Yesterday's News” - was released on Glamorous Records, with production provided by Dean Pond. In 2002, Army linked up with Dub Rise Records who released his second album, “Struggler”, along with a re-release of “Yesterday's News.” 2003 saw Army releasing the single “Calling Jah Army”, a powerful duet with Luciano. This year, Army's song, “I Don't Know” is included on Bambu Station's acclaimed compilation, “Talkin' Roots II.”

With this solid foundation of tunes under his belt, Army embarked on the recording of his highly anticipated third album, “Rasta Awake.” Largely produced by legendary guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Tuff Lion (of Bambu Station), ”Rasta Awake” is a masterpiece of all-live instrumentation roots reggae. The 13 tracks on the album capture Army at previously unseen creative heights. His poetic songwriting touch and challenge the listener in a way that few other songwriters are able. Army's voice - while influenced by such artists as Nat King Cole, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor - is unique in all of contemporary reggae with its amazing ability to be both deeply soothing and intensely energizing.

With a voice as invigorating and free as the wind, and with word sound utterances that penetrate hearts and minds, Army's mission is clear. He is firmly committed to using his music as a weapon in the war for spiritual renewal and justice for all peoples. As Army describes: “I want to send positive universal messages to people through my music, without the commercialism we see so much today… For me the music is a healing. I feel that the music healed me, took me to places where I could have not necessarily have been without it. I also feel that if someone could walk away with some type of healing, (that) they could be touched in some kind of way, they could associate themselves with some aspect of the music and then say 'wow,' maybe I'll make it after all. If I could shine some light some how, I would know that I have done something.” Army continues to do something special for all those with ears to hear this unique and much-needed voice.

Abja is a multi-talented singer, singjay, songwriter, and producer hailing from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. While Inna Red I Hour is Abja's first full-length release, he has been polishing his studio skills and sharing his gifts with audiences in NYC for several years, as a former vocalist and producer with the Survival Soundz crew out of Brooklyn. Abja also appeared on I Grade Records' first compilation album, Weep Not, released in November, 2002. His tune - “Crucial Confessions” - received widespread acclaim and radio play throughout the US, Caribbean and Europe.

Abja continues to redefine the meaning of Rebel Music and erase the boundaries placed on true reggae. Abja creates music that lifts the spirit and the mind. His voice possesses the qualities necessary to convey emotions ranging from love to revolution. Rebel Music is the focus, and freedom and upliftment of African people is the mission
Abja is a powerful performer whose spirit and energy transmits to everyone around him. He sings with a strength of purpose, with a dynamic and confident, yet humble, stage presence. Performing with his backing band, Blackfoot, Abja has graced the stage at numerous venues around NYC, including the world famous SOB's in Manhattan. Upcoming tours are in the works to bring Abja's messages to audiences across the country and around the world.

Ancient King, born Wendell Francois, hails from St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. In 2002, he was featured on I Grade Records' acclaimed compilation, Weep Not (recording under the name, Willow). Tunes like “Manage” and “Ancient of Days” were well-received by listeners, DJ's and reviewers around the world. Since that time, Ancient King has sharpened his craft through recording and stage show work in the Newport News, VA area with the King Lion Crew. He is known for his high energy stage performances and has shared the stage with many different artists including Yellowman and Capleton. Ancient King also released two songs on Indigo International's compilation album, The B Sides.

On Ancient's first full-length release, Conquering Sound, he again teams up with I Grade Records to create one of the most innovative albums by a conscious chanter in this current time. Like most of the messages in the VI's roots reggae movement, Ancient King's songs are firmly rooted in the tradition of Rastafari rebel music. The musical soundscapes provided by the I Grade production team consist of the thunderous bass lines, rock solid drums and rootsy guitars and keys for which I Grade is well known. Conquering Sound features guest appearances by Prince Pankhi, Empress Michel and Vaughn Benjamin of Midnite. Conquering Sound was released in April 2005.

Bringing forth words of truth with a tongue of fyah, Ancient King blazes his own trail unlike any other chanter in modern reggae music. His powerful and unique delivery combines with intensely relevant lyrics that stand firm on principles of truth and right. One listens to Ancient King's songs and it is clear that he takes very seriously and honorably the opportunity to share his word sound with the nations.

Nigel "NiyoRah" Olivacce was born on October 9, 1980 in the coastline village of Pointe Michel, Dominica. At age 4, he moved to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, with his family, and cultivated an interest in music through listening to artists in his father's and uncle's roots reggae collections, including Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear and Lucky Dube. By age 16, NiyoRah began chanting on the streets about the life experiences of the Savan ghetto in downtown Charlotte Amalie.

At age 18, NiyoRah decided to pursue a career in reggae music. "Reggae had one of the greatest influences on my life. It's the type of music I cling to for some mystical reason," he says. "The most high guided me more than me myself." He took on the name NiyoRah - a combination of his nickname growing up and out of respect for the omnipotent power of the sun. Music was a natural career choice because of his musically gifted family. His grandfather is an award-winning vocalist who sings Negro spirituals and gospel, while his aunt, Ophelia Olivacce Marie, is an international French-speaking artist heralded as "Dominica's Songbird" for her style of cadence and calypso. In 1998, he was introduced by local reggae radio personality Ras Manny to Black Juice Records, a Virgin Islands-based recording company. He joined with six other reggae artists under the company to co-found Star Lion Family. His voice can be heard on Star Lion Family's EP Brighter Days released in November 2003.

NiyoRah's songs delve into a wide range of issues, including cultural living, love for nature, strengthening of all peoples, especially Africans, and spiritual growth. In concert, NiyoRah has performed in front of thousands, sharing the same stage with artists such as Sizzla, Capleton, Junior Reid, Buju Banton, Bunny Wailer, Glen Washington, Eve of Rough Riders, Midnite Band, Dezarie and Junior Kelly. NiyoRah's debut solo album - A Different Age - was released in May of 2005 on I Grade Records.

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