Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nasio Fontaine... Dominica and the world's reggae voice


(March 1996): Nasio Fontaine's portrait stared at me from several photographs tacked to the wooden wall of a clothes tailor's shack in the Bamilike highlands of Cameroon, Central Africa where I was living at the time on an academic exchange program.
nasio fontaine

Nasio Fontaine in concert.

I was there admiring the tailor's exquisite clothing creations when I was struck by the images of Nasio tacked to the wall. There was something very striking about Nasio and his look and he seemed to radiated a strong spirit from the photograph, it was almost uncanny.

I was a reggae fan so was instantly intrigued by this chance introduction to a new reggae artist that I had not yet heard...

I inquired and the tailor spoke highly of Nasio's music and his message - "the people's reggae artist", and I learned that Nasio was from Dominica in the Eastern Caribbean, which probably had a lot to do with why I had not heard of him at that point in my life.

Unfortunately the tailor's only cassette of Nasio's music was warped and ruined so I was unable to sample his music that day and was left staring at Nasio's striking look in the photos and wondering just what he sounded like. Nasio's music thus remained a mystery to me.

It seemed though that word of mouth had spread rapidly about this reggae artist and that he was treasured by people that had heard his music.

The tailor acknowledged that was very moved by the musical message that Nasio was singing.

(Summer 1996): Back in the USA, I finally tracked down a copy of Nasio's debut release, "Reggae Power" (originally released in 1994) at in New York City.

I vividly remember getting home and playing his music for the first time - I had been anticipating the moment for months but did not know what to expect.

The first song was called "Armed and Dangerous" and it started like any other solid roots reggae track, with a driving and catchy beat.

However, within 50 seconds I began noticing Nasio's special vocal delivery taking hold of my attention - his voice literally danced over the rich melody line and grabbed me with loads of emotion in his enunciation.

He was clearly an exceptionally talented artist. By track # 3 ("Africa We Love") I had become completely convinced that Nasio's vocal delivery and message was something special.

It was uncanny, at once familiar and yet firmly rooted in his own knowledge and conviction of spirituality. To my ears Nasio's voice and vocal delivery sounded far more like Bob Marley than any of Marley's children but to my ears it did not at all feel contrived or forced but rather natural.

I try to avoid these types of artist to artist comparisons, but in this rare situation I feel the need to compare the two.

Nasio's vocal delivery Song #5 ("Justice") was another powerful number and I concluded that what-ever spirit that had inspired Reggae's greatest musical ambassadors of the past was alive and in force within Nasio Fontaine.

His music and voice was brimming with spirituality and expression more so than most other singers I had witnessed. The entire album is recommended and ranks up there in the list of all-time classics.

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Nasio Fontaine is one of the most conscious artist around the world,that we need to pay more attention too. Nasio lyrics and voice is sometimes mistaken for one of bob marley's son. But if you listen carefully you can see his style is different from them all. Nasio Fontaine is the best reggae artist ever came up from the nature isle. I love his music very much.

Nasio is a blessing which we, as Dominicans, need to appreciate. It's time that we realized that Nasio is’t just not another Dominican artist but a first class international artist and gives him his respect. So to all the show organizers, it's time to swallow your egos and pay your respect when signing contracts. God bless Nasio.
Big Fan
Nasio is one of the best reggae artists on the scene today. It's a shame that Dominica is not giving him the respect he deserves. I personally do not listen to any type of music and I have Nasio's CDs. I live up i Jersey and listen to his music to stay connected to my Dominican roots. Keep up the excellent job Nasio. Keep the music coming.
I remember 2007 Creole in the Park. It was the final day of that event, and the last artist was the brethren Nasio. It poured heavily, and the skies open with all its glory, as everyone tried their best to shelter under umbrelas, trees, coats, but no one moved.

We were cold, and got warmth form smoking the herb and the expectation of Nasio presence on stage. The park was over- crowded, and when the MC announced Nasio, it was like, total silence. Nasio started with a prayer and sang Living in the positive.We all felt the presence of the Most High, and we communicated with H.I.M tru word sound power.

The rain stopped at once, and althought we were all wet, it was the greatest show on earth. Nasio loved the crowed, and we loved him even more. This man is really blessed and I felt so moved, so proud that he is a Dominican with International class Reggae music, music for the mind , body and soul. To me, and to many other Dominicans, Nasio is a hero, a true messanger from H.I.M
keep up the work NASIO..nyc misses you my brethren...living in the positive still my favorite rasta.
Nasio is a world class talent and should be cherished by Dominicans as he is by the rest of the world.

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