Jamaican Artist O. C. Roberts Challenge World Leaders on “Gambling With Our Lives”
by Howard Campbell
DETROIT – Detroit is known as the Motor City for its rich auto history, but that’s also where soul music exploded through Motown and groups like The Supremes. Strongly influenced by that sound, singer O. C. Roberts feels right at home there.
The Jamaican artist, who has lived in Michigan’s largest city for over 25 years, takes world leaders to task on Gambling With Our Lives, his latest song.
Co-produced by Roberts and veteran musician Ansell Collins, it was released on September 11 by Tuff Gong International.
Gambling With Our Lives takes aim at powerful leaders who Roberts blames for epidemics like Ebola and the Coronavirus. They have one objective, he charged, and that is to destroy Africa.
“Is something I sit down an’ think about all di time, an’ I decided it was the right time to do a song ’bout it. So, I call Ansell an’ got it done,” said Roberts.
The song is done for Roberts’ OCR Records label which has a distribution arrangement with the Marley-owned Tuff Gong International. They also distributed Lie, his previous song, as well as Made in Jamaica, Roberts’ debut album which came out in May last year.
Roberts, who is from Kingston, started his career in the Jamaica capital during the early 1970s as a club act with The Titans band which also included drummer/singer Glen Washington. His first recording was a 1975 cover of Wake up Everybody, originally done by Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes.
After settling in Detroit, Roberts stopped recording for an extended period and hosted a weekly reggae show on WDTR FM, a public radio station. He was also emcee for concerts by leading acts passing through the city, such as Sizzla, Capleton, Morgan Heritage and Steel Pulse.
It was Collins, a member of the venerable Revolutionaries band of Channel One studio fame, who encouraged him to resume recording.
“He said, ‘why are you sitting on dat voice?’ and we’ve been working together ever since,” said Roberts.
Several of the songs he and Collins collaborated on in the last 10 years can be heard on Made in Jamaica.