Cornel Campbell: Interview and brand new album!

Foundation Jamaican singer Cornel Campbell, adds fresh chapter to roots and dub reggae music with NEW SCROLL. Available everywhere June 18 and already from the first preview it evokes the timeless spirit of the ‘golden era’ of reggae. Released on the award-winning Zion High Productions label, the album is a treasure trove of original Jamaican music. Boasting 9 new songs penned by Campbell as well as 4 extraordinary dub mixes, New Scroll is loaded with Campbell’s steady musicality and poetic flow. Rich, resonant arrangements by Zion I Kings and soulful messages straight from the ‘Original Gorgon’ ensure that New Scroll will please those who celebrate when singers ruled the land and dub was a soundman’s weapon. Set now within ZHP’s signature and ‘modern classic’ sound, the falsetto that brought Campbell early and then unparalleled success with Jamaica’s most revered producers (Joe Gibbs, Coxsone, Winston ‘Niney’ Holness, Winston Riley, King Edwards, Duke Reid and more) is given a new life and lift on New Scroll. Celebrating 10 years of making toppa top reggae music in 2013, ZHP guarantees that this, its latest release, will be an instant and enduring classic as well. New Scroll is available June 18 on the Zion High Productions label in conjunction with A-Train Entertainment.


On the beginning if you can give us a little memory from the legendary Studio 1, how was the vibe in the Studio 1 while you started your career there.

Well first of all I must say I’m happy to be here in Prague, between beautiful people, and a wonderful town. Well, you know, ehm, I started my career early early, in the year 1956, at Studio 1 for Sir Coxsone’s Downbeat. It was very interesting in those days, and very… you know… It come in like you exploring something. Scientifically exploring. What the music was all about and then, I mean… After the invention of, the rhythm and blues, and ska, and rocksteady, and now the reggae, this is where it’s up right now. And I’m here right now, pushing the thing far in various lands, various places. I’ve been in Glasgow, I’ve been in Berlin, I’ve been all over the place right now. You know, touring and setting the reggae business straight.

In the Studio 1 was recording also Bob Marley. How was your relationship with him and did you met?

Well, all of those… Erm, it was inspirational. Because everybody came with him ability and put dung what dem have to put dung. And came with different ideas. And you know everybody had thein own special ideas. So you know, versatility. So, Bob Marley was special, everyone was special, beca’ we never really sound alike. We had own individual style. You know, beca’ we were original foundation artist. And it was interesting and you know it was good to really meet with them, because in those days you neva know who was rentable – who was gonna be on the top, who was gonna to mek a hit record in the chart. Everybody was just – it was there, open to each and everyone. So fortunately some artist emerge and some stay dung. You know I mean? Because some get more publicity and some was good. And you know, it was just like that.

There was a big stardom for Bob Marley in the world, but as we heard in Jamaica these days where other bigger stars as you and Dennis Brown, is that correct?

Well if you look into the sky, you see whole heap a stars, you don’t see one star, one star cyaan mek around. But some stars, erm, might get more opportunity, more than supm… It go offa opportunity. And you know, because, if you have somebody pushing you like a management and company, and some guys unfortunately don’t have a company behind them, di one who don’t have the company cyaan really shine, but the one who have a company will shine. That mean you have money spending behind them, like a godfather, a thing set it up. But with all in all, I’ll congratulate Bob Marley, beca’ he was also a great guy, and him deserve what him really… you know? And respekt everybody, we have to just move on with reggae business, and appreciate what was done, and try to even mek it betta. You know I mean? And we haffi love Bob Marley, and we haffi love one another, because all of us a individual artist but we … we share one common ting, a wah di ting we share? Reggae. Beca’ if a everyone is humble is each individual artist mek di reggae business, y’know. All of us, is like a house, a pack house of artist, but we mek reggae, one man cyaan mek reggae alone, you understand me now? It’s like all of us. So it’s good for Bob Marley, and it’s good for us.

This year there is a celebration of 50 years of independence of Jamaica, how the celebrations are going on on the island?

Well, I’ve been here for a likkle while, so I don’t know, what will check to place in Jamaica previously, and I dont want to talk the tings I don’t understand, you understand me now? But I know, Jamaica always have dem fundamental tings dat dem share, and dem views, and the values and you know, dem operate, and wid artist in line, and other artist participate in it, but dem a deh in Jamaica, since I am not in Jamaica. Ca you see the beat goes on, it’s as simple as dat, beat goes on.

You released a new album, and … If you can say something about your actual album and your european tour, where you have already been and where you are going on?

Well the album has not been released as yet, what happen, a we have just put a compilation together now, it’s a wonderful album, it’s a versatile album, because, you know you don’t just have one trend, y’know, it is sorta, ehm – vary, with different sort a y’know nostalgic ideas, and it sort of sound african some time, but y’know it’s reggae. Well, eh… We’re putting it together now to be released next year. So I have to tek some picture for the album and sort off all the procedures, y’know, by next year it will be on the market. Beca´ the world waitin’ fi a Cornell Campbell album, y’know, yeah, as it is.

And about the tour?

Well the tour was excellent, it is excellent, because I have been to places that I’ve never seen before, and the people dem warm with dem welcome, and… Thru the power of Jahovia God I did some great shows, and the people dem appreciate it very much, and I’m proud, I’m pleased, to know dat I really could perform fi di people, and mek tings… y’know… di same way dat I’m expect. Dem get di same voice on the record, den when dem see mi live, its the same trend you know, it go affa.

Who else than you I would ask a question, what’s significant, how would you describe reggae itself?

Well, dem have a old time saying seh reggae is the heartbeat of the people. And sort of it is, reggae is a… It keep yu moving, y’know? Maybe if you have a problem… Whether you have problem or you happy, you haffi play reggae same way, you understand mi now? Beca it keep you alive, it is spirit you… It is something that you must have to listen to. You cyaan… No music cyaan play a list, without reggae. You understand mi know, beca reggae have a special dynamic effect, something that motivate you, and mek you feel alive. Reggae man, ya man, cyaan live without reggae, I can not sing, unless I sing in reggae. Although I sing, I’m a versatile singer, but reggae is my heart beat. Yeah.

Thanks for the interview!

Questions by Tomas Kraus
rewrited by Mihaal from Peeni Walli

Cornel Campbell – NEW SCROLL
Zion High Productions
CD/Digital – Release Date: June 18 2013

New Scroll
Weed Out Vampires
Evil Woman
Seek JAH Love
Chant It Out
Gun Powder
Walking In The Rain
JAH Highway
New Scroll Dub
People Dub
Weed Out Vampires Dub
Seek JAH Love Dub

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