Eand reflection I understood – Zion is a spiritual place. It can be found within yourself and yet it contains everything. No sin can enter there so you must keep truth and rights by your side at all times and never allow them to leave. Through Reggae and Bob Marley I realized the power of Zion, that with an intense focus and discipline to always stay positive you can achieve miracles.
When I was a bit older, a teenager, I began to “check" more closely on the deeper meaning behind the words I was singing. I also began reading the teachings of Gandhi, Chomsky, and Howard Zinn and I began to wonder why Roots Reggae music seemed to be the only music focused on human rights. I learned most of these singers were poor, uneducated, and struggled through great oppression and yet their goal, their message was universal love. I decided to make this music and this message my life's mission; to use my music to help motivate and support people who are also on this same path; to create new and exciting music that would be positive and uplifting; that would inspire both fans and musicians to keep pushing for more; more justice, more education, more love. I also discovered the importance of the teachings of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie and the Rastafari movement's
philosophy of love for all people and an end to war and violence, just like the teachings of Gandhi, Chomsky, and Howard Zinn.
Jazz music was also an important part of my life. The free flowing yet structured genre was exciting and energizing. When it came time for University I knew I wanted to study Jazz and after meeting with Mel Graves, the head of the Jazz Performance department at Sonoma State University, I was sold. My decision was reenforced when I saw that Mario Savio, the great leader of the free-speech movement out of UC Berkeley was part of the philosophy and logic department at SSU. Sonoma State would be the only college I applied for and thankfully I was accepted.
I learned humility from the music while attending the Jazz department at SSU. Surrounded by so many great players, and being challenged by the vastness of scales and rhythms, I quickly realized no matter how long I would live, or how much I practiced there will always be worlds yet to discover. I often smile when I hear a musician say “oh I've mastered that” or “I know all of that already” because I know that at some point along their journey the music will teach them the lesson of humility and come back to bite them.
I learned a lot while at Sonoma State – about music, about life and about myself. From mentors like Mel Graves, I learned that the more you listen to your fellow musicians the better you can support them on their musical journey or solo, and as a result the better the group sounds. So it is not you and your playing that makes the ensemble great, but how you interact with the entire group that makes the music shine. I learned this is the same for life. The individual is important, very important, but only when you take a step back do you see that we are a part of a greater collective. Like a spider's web of influence we all support each other and influence one another and this is the true beauty of life.
I also came to know that the greatest blessing in life comes when you give to those who are in need, and for those who have an abundance it should be their honor to give back to uplift their neighbors.
During my time at Sonoma State I would often speak about Reggae and Rastafari. I can remember days sitting out on the steps of Ives Hall, taking in the sun as the hours passed between courses, and reasoning with my classmates and fellow musicians