Interview: Michael Rose in Amsterdam

Interview by Gerry McMahon for United Reggae

Reggae legends don’t come much bigger than Black Uhuru’s Michael Rose. His status – like his back catalogue – is full of sugar and spice and all things nice. It is beyond question one of reggae’s most impressive archives. It harbours some of the sweetest sounds to ever emanate from a reggae artist. Who can argue with ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?’, ‘Sponji Reggae’, ‘Shine Eye Gal’ and so many many more? Nobody can. Little wonder then that in 1985 he should lead Black Uhuru to reggae’s first ever keenly contested Grammy award.

Still going strong, Rose dared undertake a winter tour in early 2015. It had him criss-crossing Europe in the company of rising reggae artist Etana. At the end of February last, United Reggae caught up with the touring party for their grande finale concert in the liberal city of Amsterdam. The evening’s entertainment was split between Etana and Rose, and this reviewer was very pleasantly surprised to find that the two sets were of an equally high standard and both thoroughly enjoyable.

After Rose’s set, he generously granted an interview to our friends at United Reggae. A striking feature of the exchange is how Rose says as much through his piercing eyes and warm smile as he does through his tongue. Though crudely cut, the footage offers a rare insight into parts of Rose’s wonderfully warm persona that are normally kept firmly under wraps. In the course of the brief exchange, Uhuru’s Rose comments on the tour, family, musical influences, new work, achievements, disappointments, the Grammy, his Blue Mountain coffee farm produce and business, Black Uhuru’s demise, remaining ambitions, politicians, heroes, the homophobia issue and his arrest in Miami that resulted in a 7 year confinement.