Representing the queen in all women
in the spotlight with empress roli roachford
For the next few minutes you will spend your time interacting with a Queen of Rastafari who has penetrated local and international markets with her music. Leaving Sweden and coming to Barbados with her Barbadian father in the mid 80’s when she was a child, Empress Roli Roachford has been an ambassador for the country and mentor for young artists through both her music and, believe it or not, equestrianism. Her courage, love and commitment in dealing with horses are definitely the very same dominant characteristics that come out in the passion of her music.
It is important for me to reproduce the interview, as much as possible, in the voice of the artist and, as Bajans would say, 'Empress Roli don't hide she mout'. For those of you not familiar with Rastafari I have included a few notes to help to place things into context for you. This brings me to note number one:
**There is a difference between a salon dread and a follower of Rastafari. Rastafarianism is a way of life not a hair style.
With that said, it is now my pleasure to introduce you to Empress Roli Roachford.
Tripp: Empress Roli welcome to 'The Spotlight'. There is so much to talk about where you are concerned that I honestly had problems figuring out where the hell to start. You are a performing artist and an equestrian expert how did you manage to end up with that combination?
Empress Roli: My father John Roachford was a Bajan and an Artist. we moved because Sweden is too cold and he wanted his children to get in tune with their Roots. My Mother Elizabeth Roachford is a Swedish horse expert. My mother use to knit and my father had a studio downstairs. Artists lived in our house.....like a big family.
Tripp: Well it is quite obvious that growing up in that environment had a profound impact on you. When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?
Empress Roli: Yea man Art is it....I create...hmm how long now....since I Spirit is the eternal force. I will say from Birth. I always loved music. I knew from the arrival of self-awareness. I use to sing and dance with my twin Akoele at a young age for fun. We use to dress up n' ting. Sang in the choir at school in Sweden also.
Tripp: Let us turn for a bit to the other part of your life. You are the first Rastafarian woman to compete and represent her country in Equestrian Dressage. How did your interaction with horses develop?
Empress Roli: I have been riding horses since age 3 and been working with horses for more than 30 years. Yes I've been blessed. I have been ranked #1 in the Region in the FEI World Challenge Cup more than twice. I competed in Canada in show jumping and our team took silver and I also got an award at the same show for best sportsmanship. I have represented Barbados in Dressage on many occasions also. I have maybe 100 trophies or so. My students also do very well. It is hard work to stay on top but horses are naturally I and I feel blessed to be the first Rastafari Woman to represent. It was a long journey...... gotta hold firm.
Tripp: What I find interesting is the way you use your music and experience with horses for a greater purpose. Both you and your business, Jahworks Nature Walk Tours, have been providing therapy for the disabled through the Barbados Equestrian Association For Riders With Disabilities for quite some time and the message coming from your music is always one encouraging peace, love and respect.
Empress Roli: I founded the Barbados Equestrian Association For Riders With Disabilities (BEARD) because I see the need for more activities and sports for our special needs community. Equestrian is an Olympic sport and we have good enough trainers here in the Island. It brings great joy and happiness for the families while interacting with different cultures also. I do for them as I would like for people to do for each other. I have provided therapy for more than 15 years and it has been amazing. We now have a full ongoing therapy program at Jah Works and have had a number of shows already. Jahworks full 100!
Tripp: What about the vibes coming from your music?
Empress Roli: My music and lyrics come from the source The Most High**. As a woman and mother it hurts to see how people are so cruel to each other and creation. Then you find out they are possessed by demonic activities.
Rule one: How to run a demon? MAKE A BETTER EARTH!
Music sooths the savage beast. It is true as it is written. When one can replace aggression with love we have made a huge step to peace.
I also find in the Caribbean women are seriously treated inferior and disrespectfully. It is not in the culture that we females are progressive and independent. We must be brainless and dependant. Jah nevah mek it so! It is a lie they feed us so the unfairness can go on.
Many women - young girls outside late nights, abuse verbal and physical - all of this they dish out because we are to be less. Noways de Empress says!! A woman is a blessing and respect must be due right now! No more abuse it is utter foolishness and it shows how brainwashing has shrunk people's brain and being. To the Mother of your children is respect due! So in my music I share the strength of woman as Jah made us to be. Free and strong with love. No aggression.........burn fire pon dem who does chop up dem woman when dem don't get what dem want! Run de heathen outta creation! I don't see no other animal getting on so possessed. Jah send HIM** Angels in all forms. I am one of them.
*The Most High is His Imperial Majesty Emperor Halie Selassie I also referred to as King of Kings, Lord of Lords and Conquering Lion of Judah. He is the Devine being central to Rastafarianism.
* HIM is the acronym for His Imperial Majesty.
Tripp: Respect is definitely a key ingredient. You yourself have been with a significant other for almost as long as I have been alive. How do you maintain the balance in your relationship/marriage.
Empress Roli: The balance comes when one remains who you are as an individual. Married I am not but spiritually we are connected. I don't believe in marriage and I feel if we were married for real, like in the world, we would not have lasted the 20 years. This is a good way to live. We are both artist so sparks will fly. Always be considerate to the other's expressions.
Tripp: I don't think that it would take anyone listening to your music for the first time very long to see that positive messages like these are a large part of your signature as an artist. You have also done a number of major collaborations.
Empress Roli: To date- with Courtney Melody, LRG, Supa Frost and Orakle. My newest is with Jamaican reggae sensation Kashmar.
Tripp: You have been nominated at least twice at the Barbados Music Awards (BMA's) for Best Reggae Artist and you have also had the opportunity to perform at Reggae on the Hill which is regarded as Barbados' biggest reggae festival.
Empress Roli: I was Nominated and went on to be the first Rasta to win the People's Choice Award in 2012-2013. I was also nominated for Best Reggae Artist in that Year and in 2013-2014 I was nominated for Best Reggae Artist of the year again. Reggae on the Hill I loved! It was awesome.....had a blast. I love the band..the people the sound system..top class..I LOVE!!
Tripp: What would you consider to be your biggest achievement to date?
Empress Roli: No trophies or awards can ever match being in tune with Jah Jah and knowing that the real force behind 'representing' is my greatest achievement. Being a woman in Barbados, holding firm with Natty Dreads** and representing my sistas, holding true to my music regardless of people's opinions. Freedom and Love.... that's real.
**Natty Dreads refers to locs but in this context it also means holding firm to Rastafari
Tripp: What would you say are some of the major issues happening with regards to your art form today?
Empress Roli: Well reggae from Bajans seems to be not accepted....brainwashing again. We are as a people to keep ignorant which is really un cool. They have decided that Calypso is we only music which is not true. We have so many multi genre talents in Barbados including spoken word. We need a proper infrastructure.
They say they play local music? What percentage? because to I they only play the same 4 artist over again every day? How is that? How de youth gine be heard?
Also are we not sexual enough? "Bajan ladies are beautiful.....the men don't get enough nukie"? In nearly every tune that gets push we gotta 'pat' we Royal parts and 'back shot' it or crawl round like a dog and piss. Music? Nah that's foolishness! Now they are complaining the girls are slack but what yuh think? That is all they hear like if those songs are BIG TUNES.
If de man was not buying slackness de woman won't be selling it simple!
Bashment Dance Hall I love but lyrics need improvement. We don't need to tell our ladies and people that bad is good and cool because people push bad as though it is good and cool. In fact reset the minds......strong and clean is good. Dance yuh sexy dance it's all good. Love yuh man it's all good. Dissing yah Royal self? nahhh! error! Be true to your Creator and Creation. Watch de youths dem. No porn needed in public.
I am also in the process of setting up a Sports, Culture and Community Centre so we in Barbados can get a better structure in music in Barbados. This centre will also be the first of its kind to cater to special needs people and has received the endorsement of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Youth. The reality is we need pro managers and a team. It is the same problem for all artist......we need dollars backing us not talk! To do a tour you must get out there. If yuh nah there it aint gine happen.
why we don't plan a Barbados oriented concert in reggae in the UK or Europe as well? Any place but here. They do it for Calypso and Soca. Raise the reggae artist please! I wonder as one of the only Reggae female artists in Barbados why my music aint getting played every day?
I would like to see financial support to those studios who assist the youth to help push record and market their product. A mobile recording unit that comes around the ghetto and records artist for free....next day they bring back a cd with their tune which the artist owns. No scams, no tricks, just pure love and forward. Our concerts should not be genre based but should include some of everyone. Music is a unity thing. No more boxing we off in folders! You get me sis? I have 100 ways to make it better.
I feel because I am a woman they don't want I to lead the massive but the reality is that every day Bajan artists reach out to I on Facebook and other networks for assistance in all aspects including managing and marketing. I do what I can but it takes money to make things right. Hard to push an artist in a pair of jeans that are 100 years old......hard to push myself in them also. I am lucky enough to be at a point where persons sponsor me but I need a team for my Bajans. Personally I now have Destines Media in the UK who now represents I in the UK, USA and Europe and in place for late summer there are plans for an Empress Tour.....more info to come.
Tripp: So there is really not a lot of support for the female reggae artist in Barbados is there?
Empress Roli: I wanna see the daughters** get forward. Kings support yuh Queens! Get your head out yuh ass it aint about you.....it's about Jah's music and a bigger mission. Don't make her life harder by not being supportive. Respect her as a messenger.
SURPRISE! Yes Jah speaks to woman also. Not only man is the messenger.
I try not to get pissed off but it happens. It pisses me off that promoters and males feel we have to spread legs to get a forward with our music. Pisses me off that disk jockeys play mainly male reggae music. Pisses me off that people feel I born rich because my skin aint as dark as yours. I started working at 12....no hand outs.
It pisses me off that I crack my back at Jahworks to make a better tomorrow for Bajans and the special needs, including, rescue horses, and there is no assistance. It pisses me off to know I am such a positive asset for Barbados as an ambassador and I aint travel to represent because I don't kiss ass....dirty ting to do.
It pisses me off that our special needs community aint feel welcome to come and socialize with us. It pisses me off that music plays on air dissing women. It pisses me off that Barbados has so much red tape to have an event or party. How we can push our culture when people broke and now gotta pay for licenses etc? It pisses I off that the mentality here is still enslaved....the rest of the world moved on and we are stuck in 1932
**'daughters' refers to females/women.
Tripp: What advice do you have for artists and aspiring artists?
Empress Roli: Life is for living. Make the most of it. We all live and then move on. Make a better tomorrow. Always keep positive. One must remain free and know how to love one's self. We need to stress less and realize that a lot of our worries are fabricated for us to fit in the world. If we don't do it their way we are wrong. Once you are doing good you're right as far as I am concerned. Live your life share the love and be thankful.
for my fellow artist out there.....do your art because that's who you are....because it makes you feel good and allows you to be free to express. Many times your work might not be appreciated but if you love it it does not matter. One day people will grow to your vibe and then you will smile. Make sure your production is tops and work with some of the well know producers and disk jockeys. They have a lot to teach.
Make sure your stage performance is good and clean and that you sound just as good live as you do in the studio. Make sure to be open minded to positive growth and learn people skills. Try to market and push yourself as much as you can on your own. Create a good on line product and production. Many times you will meet great connections on line, broaden your horizons, allow the growth and to it all have faith in your talents because YOU ROCK!
Courageous, committed, straight forward. I did warn you that the Empress don't hold she mout'. Thank you all for joining me in this month's edition of 'The Spotlight'. I hope you enjoyed interacting with Empress Roli Roachford as much as I did. Don't forget to check out Empress Roli's music video below and show some love by sharing the video. You can also follow Empress Roli on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EmpressRoliRoachford and https://www.facebook.com/roil.roachford. Access more of Empress Roli's music at http://www.unitymusik.com/empressroli.html and http://www.reverbnation.com/RoliRoachford?profile_view_source=header_icon_nav