Souljah Fyah. They’re an outstanding reggae band. And that’s not just me saying it. Here’s what Shelly Gummeson from Earshot-Online says: “On and off stage...[lead singer] Sista J exudes a high voltage, positive energy. Unfettered without setting limitations is precisely the attitude and energy that has propelled Edmonton’s Souljah Fyah to become Canada’s top Reggae band.” They’ve won all kinds of acclaim: including a Juno nomination, two Western Canadian Music Association awards, and twice-declared the best reggae band in Canada by the Canadian Reggae Music Awards and the Reggae Music Achievement Awards.
So who’s in Souljah Fyah? The leader is Waymatea Ellis, better known as Sista J; she’s the lead singer, the lyricist, and she plays bass; she’s also a reverend with her own healing practice. Too Tall Paul Joosse sings and plays keyboard and bass. Stormin’ Norman Frizzell plays keyboard and megaphone, and the Original Tribesman plays percussion. The band is back with The Long Walk, recorded at Edmontone Studio in Edmonton and Mad Rebel Studios in Negril, Jamaica, and the album features the classic mix that made Souljah Fyah great: intelligent lyrics full of personal and social commentary, and music and lyrics as warm as the Caribbean sun.
In today’s conversation, Waymatea discusses:
Throughout today’s show you’ll hear tracks from the latest album, including “Inner Critic,” “Bigger Than Me,” “One More Chance” with guest singer Access, “Circle,” and “All is Still.” Waymatea spoke with me by Skype on February 14, 2017. We began by discussing the meaning of the title The Long Walk.
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Waymatea, better known as Sista J, is the band leader, lead singer, lead lyricist, and founding member of Souljah Fyah, one of Canada’s most popular and most celebrated reggae bands. Souljah Fyah has released three albums including their self-titled debut, Truth Will Reveal, and I Wish. The band has just returned from producing an album in Jamaica that is scheduled for release early 2016.
Unlike most of her contemporaries in popular music, Waymatea is an accomplished song writer, weaving her albums with everything from searing anti-genocide anthems and hometown cheer-sections to spiritual hymns and tender songs of heartbreak.
In this episode of MF GALAXY, Waymatea discusses:
Waymatea spoke with me on December 3, 2014 by Skype from her home in LA—that’s Leduc, Alberta.
Note that throughout our conversation, Waymatea’s young daughter makes several quiet cooing remarks and sound effects. Full disclosure: Waymatea and I are good friends; we met when we were both children, and in the early 1990s we worked together in EBONY, an African-Canadian youth group. We begin with Waymatea introducing herself.