MUSIC FOR THE SOUL: Jahaziel
MOBO AWARD-winning gospel artist Jahaziel has delighted fans with his latest release Heads Up, his first album with US based label Xist Records.
The album features guest appearances from a whole range of artists including fellow MOBO winner Guvna B, Sean Simmonds, Dwayne Tryumf and his uncle, reggae superstar Maxi Priest.
They Don’t Know, the debut single from Heads Up garnered critical acclaim, particularly as it features Maxi Priest on vocals.
Jahaziel shared how he got his uncle to agree to sing. “We talked and it just seemed right. It was a while after we agreed to do the song together that the song actually came about, as we wanted to wait for the right song. It was an honour working with someone with as much talent and experience as Max, and although I’m his nephew I’ve long been a fan.”
The key message, Jahaziel says he is conveying is the core values of the gospel. He explained, “I didn’t want to get too abstract or complicated on this project so I tried to keep the themes quite simple really. The messages of the album are based around simple truths that do carry weight and depth, but hopefully relate to all people in some way. In a way I’ve tried to make an album that goes back to the formula of the negro spiritual songs that many still sing today – songs of love, hope, freedom, forgiveness, joy through trials and ultimately eternity.”
Increasingly, Jahaziel’s music, and outlook on life and faith has been influenced by his work with the Eden Network, which entails him living in disadvantaged communities. “I’ve been working for the Eden Network leading a team of urban missionaries for a couple years now,” he said.
“In partnership with the local church we run all sorts of youth engagement activities from football to job searching to Bible studies. What is special about Eden is that it involves actually moving into the neighbourhood and becoming part of the local community, so you’re not just sharing some of your time your sharing your life – which is what Jesus did.”
Jahaziel takes a leaf out of his own life; his childhood was deeply affected by his parents volatile break up, causing him to become violent and rebellious.
He recalled: “My school life suffered greatly and I was constantly kicked out of schools. I have one older brother and he was always a pretty good example. When we were kids my mum took us to Sunday school for a while, there were a lot of things I didn’t like about church but I was impressed with this God they believed in. It was here I think the seed of faith was planted in my heart but it was a long while later before I realised it.”
Luckily Jahaziel never got into drugs or went to prison, and became a Christian after hearing a simple gospel message and became a gospel rapper soon after. Now married and with a family, Jahaziel is just concentrating on being a good example and spreading a positive message through his music.
And what should we expect from him in 2014?
“Hopefully more of what you’ve come to expect from me over the years - top quality music that you can enjoy but that also uplifts your soul. More videos, more collaborations, more concerts, more preaching engagements, more street evangelism.”
Heads Up is out now. Visit www.jahazielmusic.com for full details