Though phone and miles away, a revealing picture of Richie Spice, the down-to-earth reggae artist from St. Andrew, Jamaica emerged as we spoke. I felt I was not just talking to the artist Richie Spice, but to Richell Bonner the person–amazingly talented and devoted to music.
I am a long time listener of Spice. And not by accident. There is something infectious about his music and his voice in particular—whether on his hit debut single “Earth A Run Red” or on his intoxicating love song “Brown Skin.” It is a voice that expresses sadness, hope, protest, and frustration in such a raw, powerful and captivating way.
Richie, whether singing passionately about love or politics, reveals his courage and authenticity to the world. It is these qualities that has made me an ardent Spice fan over the years and why I return to his music for strength and inspiration.
In this interview, I ask Richie about his music, reggae culture, politics (including the oppressive Western system of Babylon, a recurring target of criticism in his music), and his newly released album Soothing Sounds: Acoustic on Tad’s Records. It took him nine months of non-stop work to complete the album, a number that is not lost on me as a birth cycle.
The new acoustic album is beautiful and indeed soothing—a moving collection of calm and uplifting versions of well-known Spice songs like the politically aware “Youth Dem Cold” (retitled “Searching”) and motivating “Get Up.” The album is a must have for anyone who enjoys the positive, soulful vibes of the artist.
His signature phrase – “na na na na na na yeah!” – was a curiosity for me. I was intrigued to learn that the phrase is connected to his heritage. Sometimes an artist’s signature phrase is a spontaneous creation of the studio environment – words sung or spoken in a fiery moment on the mic – but not in Richie’s case. You’ll have to listen to the interview to find out more:
Soothing Sounds: Acoustic releases on October 23, 2012. For more information about Richie Spice and the new CD, please visit http://www.richiespice.net. To purchase the music, please visit iTunes. This interview was recorded by phone on September 28, 2012.