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Christafari Reggae Sunday School
Artist: Various Artists, executive producer Mark Mohr
Label: Lion of Zion Entertainment
Time: 23 Tracks / 1:07:08
Released: August 18, 2005
While Reggae music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it has always been one of my favorite genres so it was pretty easy for me to get into Christafari Reggae Sunday School. Coming to you from Lion of Zion Entertainment producer and label owner Mark Mohr and company, this is a light hearted approach to old standards such as "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus."
The dramatic segues bring the characters to life and I can foresee little children bouncing around the classroom pretending to be their favoriteokay teachers you didn’t read that, I didn’t really mean bouncing in the classroom! With characters such as Nigel the Iguana, Calypso the Coconut, Manu the Mango, Seymour the Seagull, and Patchouli the Jellyfish I predict Christafari Reggae Sunday School will revolutionize the Sunday School classroom much the same way as Veggie Tales and Antshillvania did.
I do not however want to leave you with the impression this is just a fun tool for Sunday School teachers because the album offers much more. Just as notable cinematographers will hire well known Hollywood personalities to take on the voices of characters in animated films Mohr has assembled a cast of very skilled reggae performers. Urban Gospel fans will recognize the name Solomon Jabby (co-producer) a three time nominee for the 2005 Urban Gospel Industry Awards. Also appearing on the CD is Christafari’s lead vocalist Avion Blackman (co-producer) who recently debuted a solo recording of her own. Blackman’s ethereal voice continues to impress. Ritchie Righteous, Red Cloud, Monty G and David and Jubilee Fohe are some of the other better known artists who lend their voices to this adventure set in the mythical islands of Yeahman and Noman.
Mohr once again demonstrates his love for brass and percussion sections. Throughout the 23 tracks saxophones, trombones, trumpets and horns compliment steelpan and drum kit. Speaking of steelpan only the most staid teacher will insist her children remain seated when track 17 Jonah starts to play.
Mark Mohr’s signature is all over this album. On his productions Mohr strives to have the instruments played by hand and to develop interesting combinations to create excellent world music. Mohr continues to establish himself as one of the music industry’s most talented producers.
If you are still feeling apprehensive about exposing your children to songs such as "Dreadlocked Samson" then I encourage you to visit www.lionofzion.com to listen to the numerous audio clips from Christafari Reggae Sunday School.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18. All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.
Reggae Sunday School is based on five characters: Nigel the Iguana, Calypso the singing Coconut, Manu the know it all, overripe Mango, Seymour the Seagull, and Patchouli the Jellyfish. The disc is a series of one acts plays surrounded by songs aimed at children to convey the message of the Gospel.
The problem with reggae in general is the repetitive nature of the music – often the songs blend together, and other than lyrical changes, are exactly the same as their predecessors. The album goes from being a novelty to becoming annoying very rapidly for most adults. There is very little here to be considered original – "Name the Animals" puts a Jamaican on a very similar idea employed previously in a Time/Life animated series about the Old Testament.
Several songs you know are here – "Zacchaeus," "Jesus Loves the Little Children," "Be Glorifed," and "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" all receive the Carribean treatment, complete with new verses and words that add almost nothing to the original versions. Other tunes, like "Dreadlocked Samson," try too hard to give an island flavor to people who were never within one thousand miles of South America.
"My Lord is Sweet" is the worst offender, with a repetitive, nonsensical nature to its lyrics:
What is sweeter than candy?I literally punched a hole in my CD player trying to make this song stop. There are about two minutes of similar comparisons after the lyrics cited. Thankfully, the rest of the tunes here don't sink to this depth, but _Reggae Sunday School_ would make Bob Marley do gymnastics in his coffin.
Brian A. Smith