Tonight Afro-Reggae singer and songwriter, Ras Sheehama, is celebrating his 50th birthday with a concert at the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek. His birthday was actually yesterday – he was born on 29 July 1966 in Ombalantu, northern Namibia.
Dubbed ‘Celebrate the Legend’ the concert will feature Big Ben, Tequila, Elemotho, Hishishi Papa, Castro, Slickartie, Miss H, the Savannah Afros, while Exit, SunnyBoy and Jackson Jr will feature during Ras’ performance.
It would indeed be a celebration of the legend that is Ras, the singer who gave us ‘Push and Pull’ in 1992. ‘Everything is a push and pull…’ That song rode the airwaves then.
He would go on to tour all over the world, featuring at the Montreaux Jazz Festival, the Fetes de Geneve, Milan, the UK, Portugal, Cuba, at the Festival Mondial des Arts Negres in Dakar, Senegal, the list goes on and on.
Seeing that it is a celebration of 50 years of living, half a century of being on earth, New Era Weekend asked Ras what he considers to be the highlight of his music career. When he looks back what images flood his memories?
“There have been many highlights over these past 25 years,” he says. “But what comes to mind was my performance as the main act at the Trnkobrani Open Air Festival in the Czech Republik, where I was performing for an audience of 15’000 people,” he said.
Ras’ journey into music started while in exile – he left the country in 1979 – while living in Angola and Zambia refugee camps. It was in those refugee camps that he developed his passion for music, singing and playing a guitar.
But it was during his secondary school days in Nigeria that he sharpened his music touch. It was there that he got impressed with the live performances of the legendary Fela Kuti and others. It did help that he was also in the school band. His first ever-recorded music demo was cut in Nigeria in 1986 – it included the track ‘Cassinga’ which would make him an instant hit in Namibia after independence.
It was in Namibia though that he really established himself as the Afro-Reggae king. Between 1990 and 1995 Ras would produce three albums on cassettes. His songs were regular features on radio stations in the country. And he was busy. Every international artist who arrived in the country to perform wanted Ras to open for them. There was Manu Dibangu, Salif Keita, Ismael Lo, Lucky Dube, and Brenda Fassie. Ras also found himself touring through the UK with Music Circuit.
Looking back at Ras’ track record, he is one of the few musicians who released an album almost each year. Between 1991 and 2015 Ras released 11 albums. Starting with Kings Music, Push and Pull, Strictly Ras Sheehama (MC), Travelling (Kingsmusic CD), Pure Love (African Cream CD), Travelling on (RGM compilation CD), The best of 1991 – 2005 (RasShee Records compilation CD), Watch Over Us (RasShee Records CD), Still Standing (RasShee Records CD), Early Years (RasShee Records compilation CD) and Step Up (RasShee Records).
So we had to ask: do you have a specific song or album you regard as your personal favourite, perhaps because it represents the hard work or a defining aspect in your music career?
“Not really, I like all my songs. All of them reflect a part of my life or somebody or something that is close to me, therefore all songs have a meaning to me,” he says.
Tonight though the fans at the Warehouse Theatre would be treated to a selection of Ras songs. “It’s gonna be a mixture of my songs, I will perform most of my public favourites but will definitely also play some songs from my latest album ‘Step Up’,” he says referring to his latest album Step Up, which won an award at the NAMAs 2016.
Tickets to the concert are available at the Warehouse Theatre, Antonio’s Art, FNCC, Kamselle bar in Golgota and Greenwell. Entrance is N$250 for a VIP ticket, N$130 at the door and N$100 for a ticket in advance.