A tribute to a musical legend

2011-12-08 00:00

GOOD music in Maritzburg is growing roots.

The home-grown (in all senses of the word) family of the late Roots Cele is playing up a storm in honour of their father.

Roots’s name is familiar to anyone who follows the music scene in Pieter­maritzburg, for his captivating presence on stage and his influence on ­Maritzburg’s music culture. He is recognised for his role as lead singer and ­guitarist in his family reggae band, Roots.

Cele died earlier this year, leaving behind a family of talented musicians hungry to honour his philosophies and passion for music.

“His passing has left a big space in our lives,” explains Wadada Cele, Roots’s oldest son. “It’s been hard on all of us. I’ve had to take up my father’s role in supporting my family.” Wadada takes this seriously as the band is the family’s main source of income.

The importance of family unity, Wadada explains, was the inspiration behind the name change from Roots to Undivided Roots: “We are the roots of our father and we cannot be divided.”

The family describes their father as inspiring and disciplined, with great teachings in life and a deep love for music. “He will be sorely missed.”

The band consists of Wadada (27), ­taking on his father’s role as frontman on rhythm guitar and lead vocals; daughters Revival (20) and Heaven (17) on bass guitar and drums; and sons Spear (15) on vocals and keyboard; and Judgment (at the unbelievable age of nine) with his astonishing abilities on lead guitar.

Wadada describes the music of ­Undivided Roots: “It’s everybody’s ­music, everyone can relate to it. In a word, it’s ‘accommodating’,” and having stomped my feet and swayed to their ­addictive sounds at the Red Door, I would have to say his description is accurate.

With influences like Peter Tosh, UB40 and Bob Marley, it’s the type of music that you’ll be skanking to, and look up to see the metal head, the hip-hoppers, and that dude who just never dances, ­jamming away even harder than you.

I guess, to sum it up, their free-flowing reggae is done with the kind of live ­vibrancy that makes you turn around and say: “Wow, this is awesome.”

The cherry on top is that their set goes on for ages, so long that after the first two hours you feel as though you should go back and pay entrance again, because you’re definitely getting more than your money’s worth.

Wadada reminisces on his younger years when his father would take him to places like Cool Runnings and Buzz Bar. “There was so much going on back then. It was great,” he says with a wide grin.

It was during this period that Roots ­began working with the well-known singer Free Lea Haynes, who has taken a supportive role in the progression of the band, and more so in the months after the passing of their father.

Thanks to Haynes’s support, Undivided Roots was able to show its talents on the international stage during the COP17 ­conference at Durban’s ICC last Thursday.

Wadada expresses his positive views, saying that the conference is a good thing. “Things are going to change and we need to adapt.”

Follow Undivided Roots on Facebook; catch it at Pietermaritzburg’s Red Door or Wahooz on the Durban beach front performing with reggae band The ­Meditators on most Sunday afternoons. Keep an an eye out for the band’s album, which will be released sometime next year.

One can’t help but wish them all the best on their endeavours, as the family end with a message to their father: “We thank you for everything you have done for us, and you continue to support us into the future.”

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