Reggae-Poet Linton Kwesi Johnson Performing Sonnies Lettah

Watch this video with Linton Kwesi Johnson who was born in 1952 in Chapelton, Jamaica, but left at age 11 moving to London were he attended school, concluding his studies as a sociologist at the University of London. He can be regarded as the first reggae-poet. During his life as a student he joined the british Black Panther movement and the group of musicians and poets called Rasta Love. In 1974 at age 22 Linton Kwesi Johnson’s first selection of poems was published in the Race Today magazine, followed by a second selection one year later. Another three years later his first record titled Dread Beat An’ Blood appeared on the label Virgin Recors, followed by an intense artistic activity, producing four other records until 1981: Making History, LKJ in Dub, Bass Culture and Forces of Victory.
From then on Linton Kwesi Johnson published his work on his own label, LKJ, and was envolved in many creative activities, including tours with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band, collaborations with the jazz trumpet player Shake Keane and the writer Jean Binta Breeze as well as his participation as a reporter and other media productions.
The records of Linton Kwesi Johnson have sold and sell very well and he has been translated into other languages, including german and italian. It seems important to me that this icon of the alternative british culture consideres himself as a poet in the first place and that he doesn’t pretend to be a singer in the conventional meaning of the term. Since music is much more acceptable between people and specially among young folks, he consequently uses music as a medium for better divulgation of his poetry which is written out in the jamaican Patois dialect and addresses political issues like the experiences of inmigrants in the UK, the british foreign policies, respectable persons like Blair Peach.
In the last years, Linton Kwesi Johnson has performed only in a few occasions which could have to do with the fact that nowadays, reggae has evolved and is dominated now by tendencies like dancehall or raggamuffin.

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