The Gifts of Music
by Harrison Stafford
Ryan Newman, Marcus Urani, Jason Robinson, James Stafford, and others about the language of music. We all felt a deep connection to one another and the world at large. We came to be convinced that the first communications between living organisms must have been sound, rhythms, music, and as young musicians we felt a part of this ancient culture.
Around this time, I began working with Sonoma State to develop a course on the history of Reggae Music. It was a project I enthusiastically undertook. It would become the first such course offered at a University and an immense source of pride for me – and still is today. To be able to teach students the importance of this music and message was a joy and with it came rewards. I was able to meet some of my Reggae heroes like Joseph Hill (Culture), Israel Vibration, and the Congos who graciously agreed to guest speak at the course to tell the students of their music experiences growing up in Jamaica.
The creation of the course on The History of Reggae Music, led to another project I am extremely proud of that involved working with my childhood friend Roger Hall. Together we produced a documentary film chronicling the experiences of these great Jamaican Reggae musicians called Holding On To Jah (www.holdingontojah.com). This was another exciting opportunity to spread the Rastaman vibration, the love that Rasta speaks of – "one love" – a universal, unconditional love that is built upon the cornerstone of understanding,
respect and a caring for all people.
Groundation was born out of a love for music and a commitment to being part of a world collective. A pledge to bring people together from all walks of life, all colors, all religions to set aside or embrace any differences to rejoice in the celebration of music. Together with bassist Ryan Newman and keyboard player Marcus Urani, we took these principles and as the old Rasta narrative says, “iron sharpen iron”, we joined forces and the band “Groundation” came to be.
The greatest thing about music is that it is for everyone, and it is free. You cannot buy your way into music. It has no price tag. Someone can purchase the most expensive instrument and still sound horrible. How is it that one person can go to school to study music for 30 years, and another can take up the instrument after studying only a fraction of that time and sound sweeter? How is it that someone can be the fastest player, playing the most notes, but someone else can play just a few notes and be more impressive? I believe it is because there is something within music that connects us to a greater and deeper ancestry.
Music has given me experiences I would otherwise never have had. My first visit to Israel was on a Groundation tour and it is hard to describe my feelings as I looked out the bus window and saw those Hebrew characters on the street signs, billboards, and coffee shops. As a