New Name - Jah9
What's in a name? Quite possibly a dramatic new direction in one's life. Through the transformation of Janine Cunningham to Jah9, a girl became woman; woman found her cause and her voice, and the world welcomes a powerful and spiritual singer of Jazz on Dub. Hers is a coming of age story from the groundwater of conscious reggae in Jamaica. The daughter of a Baptist priest, her appreciation for the simple, powerful, Intuitive construct of spiritual hymns developed in church choirs. But, as is often the case for young inquisitive adults, the university campus brought fresh perspectives and soul searching. "The church is a good way for many people to come to the understanding that the spirit is separate from the flesh", Jah9 explains, "but at university, I learned about His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie, I learned about Africa and that reconciled feelings I was having with the Christian church. In the end you strip away that which you don't need and you retain the heart of it." Finding her voice was half of what would lead to New Name. The other was a developing partnership between her and Rory Stone Love, one of Jamaica's iconic producers who was at a similar place in his life and his search. "That was a really irie vibration!" Jah9 laughs, "He was looking for a female voice and that meeting lead to 'Mr. Right' "(ironically, the title of her first hit which would spawn the full-length album project New Name, produced by Rory Stone Love). New Name is golden in its purity of sound and of message. The songs are strong, simple and reach out for an immediate emotional connection. The title is self-explanatory when you know the singer's story while others speak volumes of their own implication; Intentions, Gratitude and Imagine for instance. The steaming sessions of enlightenment, ever-present in conscious reggae get their due as well on tracks like Taken Up, "And get taken up, taken up, into the celestial. Sweetest high that you could ever find. Vapours soaking in, of the green." But, listeners will also find a refreshing light-heartedness in the form of Mr. Right and Avocado delivered with Jah9's unique lilt and round sensuous vocal tone. As a colleague waxed recently about Jah9, "I don't know what 'it' is, but she has 'it'." Jah9, a New Name for reggae fans to give thanks for.