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Luciano - A Higher Power

Author: Saeed Saeed
Monday, 19 May 2008
Reggae veteran Luciano talks to Saeed Saaed on the eve of his Australian visit

'I am hardcore roots and culture!' declares Luciano. The forty-four year old reggae favourite has been inspiring the world with his authentic brand of roots reggae, which comes laced with the deep spirituality that recalls legends like Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and Burning Spear.

When Luciano first emerged as reggae's brightest young star in 1993, it wasn't due to his desire to break stylistic ground, which was by far the order of the day. Luciano's music offered a throw back to the days when reggae and a positive message went hand in hand.

Despite the crass commercialisation of current reggae music, Luciano still has love for the new crop of young artists trying to make their own unique mark in an overcrowded reggae scene. 'Many young artists are coming out now and experimenting with their lyrics and creating variations of their melodies. All of this has got to do with goals. They are all trying to come out and create an impact. As long as they keep it positive and clean, I don't think there is anything wrong with that.'

If Luciano does sound like your Sunday school teacher then you are half right. Appointing himself early on in his career as 'The Messenger', Luciano views himself as a full-time musical emissary whose goal is to spiritually enlighten people through the power of song. Speaking from a small hotel room in Boston before a club show, he acknowledges this role was a burden at first. 'It was a little frustrating to the mind,' he says. 'But as I went along I realised that people look up to me for some inspiration. I realised that it is now a mission for me and that I need to stir up my people'.

Luciano latest album, Jah Is My Navigator, is his fourteenth release in as many years. Navigator continues Luciano's quest to bring old-school reggae back to the forefront. He even covers Peter Tosh's classic I'm the Tuffest with the late great's son Andrew Tosh.

Luciano pays no mind to critics' claims that his music is too infatuated with the past to rouse any new interest.  He points to his swelling fan base in Europe and the US as a sign that audiences want something more from their reggae than quirky catchphrases and flashy videos. 'We have such a rich heritage.  If we look back, we see reggae was based on roots and messages.  People like Peter Tosh, Burning Spear, Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Third World shed sweat and tears to set the foundation we are currently basking on.  God has given each one of us something that we can add to life. There is enough inspiration for the people; we just need everyone's effort.'

WHO:   Luciano (alongside Mickey General and Horace Andy)
WHAT: Plays the Metro Theatre
WHEN: Saturday 24 May