ACL Music Fest 2014 Friday Interviews – Second Weekend

Grilling TGIFriday ACL performers – again!

ACL Music Fest 2014 Friday Interviews – Second Weekend
Photo by David Brendan Hall

Jimmy Cliff

2:15pm, Honda stage

Austin Chronicle: Your first recognition came in 1963 with the smooth love song "Hurricane Hattie." Where was Jamaican music in its progression at that time?

Jimmy Cliff: Jamaican music was a big commencing of formations. It was known as ska, later rocksteady, then reggae. When that song came out, Jamaica just got its independence from Britain and people were in a jovial, upbeat mood, which influenced the music.

AC: When reggae hit, the artistry became more righteous and spiritual. Was that an important step for the music culture?

JC: Yes, because people started questioning independence. Socially and economically, times were hard and getting harder. When Britain owned Jamaica, we had support, but independently, where does that support come from: tourism, ganja, rum? That's when the music slowed down to rocksteady. Then the questioning mind was still there, so reggae latched onto Marcus Garvey's African-rooted philosophy and Rastafari came into the picture. We found Haile Selassie and the Solomon lineage, so the music became more spiritual.

AC: Do you subscribe to the Rastafarian religion?

JC: In terms of spiritual path, my parents were Christian. I questioned that and threw that away. Then I became Rastafari, but I went to London and I couldn't continue with it. After that, I went into Islam and didn't find any answers. I do identify with Rastafari in terms of African roots and humanity's universal source of spirituality, but I don't lock myself into any one dogma.

AC: Continuing the lineage of Jamaican music, your participation in dancehall has been limited. How do you feel about that style?

JC: You see, dancehall is a rhythm, but the lyrical content has to do with physical things like sex, cars, and superstars. I don't care about that, but I did release a dancehall-styled "Rebel Rebel" on my last album and it had quite an impact in Jamaica, which felt good.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More by Kevin Curtin
South By Southwest Has a New Investor
South By Southwest Has a New Investor
With 50% ownership in SXSW LLC, P-MRC provides “lifeline”

April 18, 2021

The State of Delta-8: Booming Business?
The State of Delta-8: Booming Business?
And how potential cannabis reform could affect business

April 16, 2021


ACL Fest 2014

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle