Oba Simba talks about The Arrival album and more
Oba Simba’s new album ‘The Arrival’ is now out and I am excited to hear about it and the musical journey of the talented singer and songwriter, who hails from Eastern Jamaica.
Tell us about your music background and history?
I was given the name David Samuel Wilson at birth. I was born in 1971 at a place called Heartease in rural St. Thomas, Jamaica.
I developed my writing and performing skill while attending high school (Trench Town Comprehensive High, while growing up in a tenement yard in Alman Town, Kingston 4. It was a tenement yard with 5 of us as children there. We used to entertain each other at night times by telling stories, giving jokes and performing our favourite songs for each other. In high school literature was my favourite subject. In class every chance we get we would imitate the sound system deejays such as Papa San, Professor Nuts, Lt. Stitchie, etc.
I often come out on top of most of the schools and community talents shows, and recorded my first song at about age 16 with guitarist/songwriter Sangie Davis, who was the first to take me into a studio; Tuff Gong it was. Sangie then migrated to England and after high school music was put on the back burner, as I was busy doing 9 to 5’s and ended up spending my twenties in Negril as a Photographer/videographer.
My professional career then started in 2004, when I returned to Kingston and decided to return to music as it was always calling.
After performing at a concert called Jamaica Vibes in New Kingston one night, I was approached by Pierre and JP Greve of Special Delivery Music based in France. From that connection came “Reminiscing,” “Hanky Panky”, “Promises” and the “Whistling Bird” EP.
From then I have recorded for various producers locally, such as Mikey Bennett of Grafton Music, Syl Gordon of Cellblock, Timeless Records and internationally Special Delivery in France, Irie Ites Records in Italy and Goldcup Records in Amsterdam just to name a few.
I have performed on concerts such as Fully Loaded, Spice in the Hills, The MIDEM Festivals in Nantes France and more. I have also done some production for myself and have written songs for artists such as Sharon Tucker, Nagota from Grenada and others. Some of my popular songs are The Herbs, Man a Warrior, Lion Touch, Whistling Bird, Shape a Di Century and Two Roads, which is on an album called “Cellblock Link Up Vol 1′ which features me, Antony B. and Buju Banton. My song “She is Hot” done with Lennox ‘Buppy’ Brown is one of the soundtrack in the Lifetime movie about singer Whitney Houston called “Whitney”.
In 2007 after returning from performing in MIDEM, France and was supposed to go to Dubai, I had an unfortunate accident and part of my left foot was traumatically amputated. This then took me from the music scene again for some years, though I was still recording. I now walk with special shoes.
How did you come by the name Oba Simba and does it have a special meaning?
The name Oba Simba translates to King Lion or King of the Lions. I decided to do a deed poll and change my name. In 2003, I entered an international poetry contest where my poem was being printed in a poetry book and sent to me. When I received the book there were poems from two David Wilson. This prompted me to do an online search of the name David Samuel Wilson and found others. I was also of the realization that the surnames of most of us Africans living in the diaspora are names of our former slave masters and not of our true ancestry. I wanted to create my own dynasty and lineage. I created the name Oba Simba as Oba is Yoruba for king or god, as we are all kings and queens, gods and goddesses in our own rights. Simba is Swahili for lion which represent strength, perseverance and the metaphoric representation of the untamed and free nature of Rastafari.
When people hear the name Simba they mostly think of Disney, The Lion King, but I first came across the name while reading about 1963 to 65 Simba rebellion in South Africa. There was also a revolutionary army in the Congoes called The Simbas.
What is the big dream?
I do music because music chooses me as one of its instruments to manifest thoughts into word sounds and vibrations that will help soothe, inspire and motivate others, as they trod this rocky road of life. Ultimately I would love to be able to make my living from music so I can levitate, dedicated more time and be able to trod the world performing for the people and share my message and vibes.
Tell us about your latest album.
My latest album is called “The Arrival”. It is a 13-track album inclusive of 8 vocal tracks and 5 dubs. It was released on the 21st of February 2020 and was produced by me and Leon Cameron of Sunvibes Music.
This album will be a favourite for reggae lovers and features tracks such as “Just Like You” with three (3) of my children and reaching out to not just parents, but to all adults reminding them to be careful of the examples they set for children.
Songs like “Blessings on Me” is like a prayer encouraging you not to complain too much about the problems in life, but to give thanks for the good and positive things so as to attract more good and positive. “I’ve Found Rastafari” tells the story of a person whose father had left when he was young, his mother got ill so he ended in a gang and got shot, but survived and was able to turn his life around due to the influence of the Rastafari consciousness and the teaching of Marcus Garvey. This song is not exactly my story, but the story of many youths who had changed their lives positively by turning to the Rastafari faith.
Also on this Album are the thought stimulating weed songs such as “Wisdom Weed”, and social commentary dealing with domestic affairs, such as “Cinderella Icon”. The track that inspired the title of the album, “Fighting on Arrival” is also inspired by Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” and is about our struggle as a people to keep our morality, freedom, sanity and dignity in this ever-changing world. A must for your collection
What are some of the challenges you faced and what did you enjoy most while producing the album ?
Some of the challenges I face in the music are: (1) finding real and good people to be on my team to help promote and steer my career, (2) to get airplay as the business is now less of talent and musical substance and more of gimmicks, fashion and styles, hype and money washing, and (3) balancing financial resources between family and creating the music.
What I fulljoy (enjoy) most while creating this album is writing and recording, It’s exciting when you hear a new riddim and a new melody pop in your head, makes you don’t even want to sleep when ideas flowing.
Where online is your music available for streaming and purchase?
How are you and your family coping during this Covid-19 pandemic?
Me and my family are coping well so far during this pandemic and are staying at home as most we can. We are entrepreneurs, we make and sell natural juices and most of our customers have lost their jobs or are in the lock down areas, so our income has decrease significantly. But we have always practice to grow most of what we eat and eat what we grow so we are not out of food. Our children were already been home school, so the closure of regular schools didn’t affect us. What we miss most though is going out to perform on the shows, but every now and again we do a live performance on Facebook or Instagram.
How do you think music can help people who are panicking, quarantined or locked down due to the pandemic?
Well there is a song for every emotions that we are experiencing, and it is said that your heart beats to the music you are listening. So for sure music will help to calm the nerves at nights. Music inspires and motivates you to face the day, lift your spirit when you are feeling down, makes you dance when you need exercise, help the children to learn, bring you to some enlightenment, put a smile on your face and help you to tell someone how you are feeling when you cannot find the right words to say. So right now music is the perfect companion.
How important is it for an artiste to be physically and mentally fit?
Junior Reid sang in one of his song “to make a hit yu haffi fit, to hit the chart yu haffi smart”. Good health is vital, not just for artists but for everyone especially in these times when we all need to keep our immune system strong. But on the artist side he/she needs to be able to deliver good quality performances for fans.
Unfortunately, this has been the problem for most young artists. Most cannot sing one of their songs right through as it is on the recordings much less to perform for an hour, or even half an hour. Too much liquor, too much smoking and not enough exercise causes a lack proper breath control.
Proper diet is of vast importance also. An artist also have to learn to assess his audience and know which songs to do at the right moment, because the same mouth that say yeah can say no, so mental preparedness is of vast importance especially before a performance or an interview.
As I am not able to run nor walk for long anymore, I mostly do cycling for my exercise and yoga helps with my breathing technique. Tending my garden also helps me to meditate and look at the world from the outside, along with my herbs of course.
So the album is now out and being promoted, what’s next for Oba Simba?
The initial plan was to do a video and an album launch then apply to the various festivals, especially in Europe for tour in 2021 and also to go to DRC, Africa, but with the pandemic we have to wait and see how the business changes. And in the meantime, keep the Social Media presence up and do a few live now again for my people, and continue to write more songs.
What is the impact you want to leave on the people who listens to your music?
It would be fulfilling if after listening to my music even a line or a melody from one of my songs stay in people’s subconscious minds, where it can be used when inspiration is needed
Where online can our audience interact with you?
My people can always shout me up on IG and FB @obasimba | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | WhatsApp 876-886-1339
Thank you for sharing with us and best wishes to you on your journey to success.
Nuff thanks and raspect for accommodating me. It’s indeed my pleasure
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Queen Gee, professionally known as Gillian Larmond is the founder Mystique E-Magazine and Mystique Professional Services – Mystique PR. She is a Publicist who helps entertainers and entertainment businesses generate publicity through Public Relations, Social Media, and Sponsorship Management.
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