by Howard Campbell
[KINGSTON, Jamaica] – With Jamaica celebrating its 60th anniversary of independence from Britain in 2022, it is inevitable Trench Town will be a place of interest. That Kingston community produced some of reggae’s legends including Bob Marley and Alton Ellis.
Singer Michael “Mikey Knowledge” Smith grew up in Trench Town and remembers seeing many of those artists as a boy. During the Rasta revolution of the 1970s, he followed their path into music and recently released the EP, Power of Jah.
Although his hometown has been scarred by decades of political and gang violence, Mikey Knowledge is proud of his roots.
“I am a born and bred Trenchtownian. All eight siblings, brothers and sisters, was born in the section they call Rema. The inspiration comes from living in an environment with so much going on, be it sports music and other things,” he said. “We were surrounded by music of all sorts. With artists like Bunny and Scully, Delroy Wilson Alton Ellis, Lascelles Perkins, The Wailers, Joe Higgs, The Heptones, The Maytals, The Wailing Souls and many more. Oh! What inspiration.”
Power of Jah is his first collection of songs released since the dissolution of Knowlede. A quartet he co-founded in Trench Town in 1974. They recorded three albums, the first of which, Hail Dread, was released in 1980 by A&M Records.
Released by Sound System Club, Power of Jah has six songs. They include the title, Another Day and Mount Zion.
The tracks were recorded in London where Mikey Knowledge has lived for most of the past 20 years.
“This project wasn’t really planned, but come about by chance. While testing a newly-built studio I started by singing a few tracks with just the drum machine and keyboards, then we add the bassline and guitar. Everyone was impressed with what they were hearing and the rest is history,” he said.