Kumar Bent and Pele Hamilton
For the members of Raging Fyah, a decade of music education, hard work and constant touring and recording has finally come to fruition. On Dec.6, Kumar Bent (lead vocals, guitar), Demar Gayle (keyboards), Anthony Watson (drums), Delroy “Pele” Hamilton (bass) and Courtland White (guitar) were alerted that their third album, “Everlasting,” (VP/Dub Rockers) had been nominated for the 2016 Grammy award for Best Reggae Album.
Ironically, Raging Fyah’s manager, Lukes’ Morgan, received the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for “Strictly Roots” with his brothers Gramps and Peetah as a member of Morgan Heritage.
I caught up with the members of the Kingston, JA-based roots reggae band at the Emerald Cup at Sonoma County Fairgrounds during the weekend of December 9-11, 2016. Although Kumar admitted that it had always been his dream to be surrounded by so much marijuana in one place, the members of Raging Fyah were riding high on the news of their Grammy nomination.
Aside from the passage Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative, Raging Fyah became the talk of the annual cannabis competition.
Raging Fyah performed at the smaller Sonoma Stage at the Emerald Cup on a drizzly Saturday, giving the Emerald Cup audience and up close and personal experience. Later, I asked the members where they were and what they were doing when they learned that they were nominated for their first Grammy.
“Yeah, well, I was in my house in Jamaica, in my bed, right beside my wife,” said Kumar. “My manager called me and told me and then I started calling and telling everybody. Then, I made some breakfast and had some fun!”
Dumar said that he was in the supermarket in Jamaica when he got a text about the news of Raging Fyah’s Grammy nomination. Word traveled fast and someone made an announcement over the PA system, Dumar said. The whole store became silent.
“I was at home in Kingston, and I got a text from my manager, Lukes, followed by a phone call,” said Pele. “It was epic. It’s definitely a joyous feeling to be nominated for a Grammy. We’ve been working hard since 2006 and we’ve been focusing on putting out quality reggae music. Personally, to be highlighted in the highest musical form, which is the Grammy, feels good and it propels us to continue working hard.
Reggae music is our culture; it’s what we’re here to do. More and more people are hearing the music and feeling our vibration and it definitely feels good.”
“Everlasting” is an upbeat, rootsy album that reflects the influence of classic reggae artists such as Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, the Mighty Diamonds and Steel Pulse. Stand out tracks include the lovers rock infused title track, “Live Your Life,” featuring J Boog and Busy Signal” and “Humble,” featuring Jesse Royal.
Kumar, who considers Raging Fyah musicians rather than artists, said that if the band should win the Grammy, it will be a big win for their alma mater, the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts, in Kingston. Kumar feels that having Grammy winners as alumni would solidify Edna Manley’s reputation as a world class institution.
Raging Fyah shares the 2016 Grammy nomination with for Best Reggae Album with heavyweights such as Ziggy Marley and Sly and Robbie and popular reggae bands on the touring circuit such as J Boog, Rebelution and Soja.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Demar. “Over the years, we’ve been putting in the work, so it’s a great honor to be recognized on that level.”
Demar said that California has become Raging Fyah’s second home and feels that their live performances at mega festivals such as the California Roots Music and Arts Festival (Caliroots) have contributed to their success.
“(California) is where we launched our “Everlasting” album,” said Demar. “It’s like we birthed the baby here and we are raising him here.”
Perhaps no one was beaming brighter at the Emerald Cup that Morgan, who took a break from performing with his siblings, Morgan Heritage, to manage Raging Fyah and occasionally fills in as sound engineer on tour.
“Actually, I was sitting at my computer, watching the ‘Today Show’ when they were announcing the top four categories,” said Morgan. “And then I got a text from my friend Christy Barber; she was like, ‘Congrats!’ And I was like, for what, and she was like, Lukes, they got nominated. I paused. It was just so humbling for this to happen to Raging Fyah a year after me, as a member of Morgan Heritage won.
“The Grammy award is the highest accolade that you can get in the industry,” said Morgan. “Just being nominated is a win. To be nominated for our first independent album as Morgan Heritage was incredible. We gave our speech but backstage, we broke down, we all started crying. It took us 20 something years; and this is (Raging Fyah’s) third album. It’s a great thing!”
A fun fact: Morgan said that he keeps his own Grammy in a safe deposit box.
The 59th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Feb. 12. Should they win, the members of Raging Fyah would most likely walk across the stage at the Premiere Ceremony at the adjacent Microsoft Theater.
Which bring us to the hot topic of what the members of Raging Fyah will be wearing to the Grammys.
At the moment, Kumar was undecided, and Demar had already called his tailor.
For more information, visit: Ragingfyah.com and Grammy.com.
For the first time in history, multiple Grammy winner, author, actor and activist Ziggy Marley will perform at the Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony at the Microsoft Theater. Ziggy is nominated for Best Reggae Album for his self titled release, "Ziggy Marley." Ziggymarley.com