by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Though often disparaged as Obeah music, Revivalist music still has a base in Jamaica. So-called Pocomania songs make intermittent entries on dancehall charts, but if KuKudoo has his way, they will be more frequent.
The singer, whose spiritual sound has earned him a following among Revivalists and secular fans, returns on October 2 with Jerusalem, his third album.
Distributed by Tad’s International Record, it contains 16 songs including collaborations with gospel artists Omari and Psalmist.
“Revival music is very different from the other sounds of gospel. It is more spiritual and traditional; as a part of our culture it keeps you moving even when you don’t want to,” said Kukudoo.
Jerusalem is his latest project with a mainstream company. Thank You Jesus, his 2014 hit song with Omari, was produced by Donovan Germain for Penthouse Records, the producer and label that gave Buju Banton his break.
Prior to Thank You Jesus, KuKudoo was well-received with King David, which is considered his breakthrough song. Both are included on Jerusalem.
The 55 year-old was born David McDermott and grew up in the tough March Pen Road area of Spanish Town, Jamaica’s first capital.
Before becoming a Christian, he performed on sound systems in his hometown. When he began recording as KuKudoo, he found solace among the Revivalist sect which he admits he knew little about.
“I didn’t grow up in a Revival Church as I didn’t understand the Revival movement. I got into Revival at a late age, where I found out that this religion is very spiritual and that of God,” he said.
The Revivalists, who wear flowing white robes and chant to uptempo, Afro-centric beats, are a big part of Jamaica’s folk culture though sometimes they are scorned by even the country’s established Church.
Secular acts like Chalice (Revival Time), Elephant Man (Yuh Too Bad Mind) and Mr. Vegas (Tek Weh Yuhself) have had chart success in Jamaica with Pocomania-inspired songs.
KuKudoo is not only popular in Jamaica. He has performed in South Florida and the tri-state area.