IMPACT THROUGH ACTION: NATTALI RIZE
CALIFORNIA RIZING TOUR MISSION 1.
by Brian Nelson, editor at rootfire.net
Creating art is an expression of the soul. It is an opportunity to communicate the emotions and values rooted deep within the artist. However, when the decision is made to present this art to the world, who you are and what you create becomes more than just art, it becomes your brand. Developing this brand and expanding your audience is what allows your message to resonate stronger, reaching more and more fans who connect with what you have to say.
Ascending into this role of social leadership through art is reggae musician Nattali Rize. Splitting her time between Jamaica and Australia, where she grew up, Rize has a distinctly international perspective which is aptly translated into accessible lyrics focussed on equality, resilience and revolution.
But her message does not stop at the lyrical level. Rize is consistent in her active participation and promotion of impactful organizations. From the Occupy Pinnacle movement to American Relief Centers, ideals are consistently put into action by this reggae revolutionary. This month finds Nattali lighting up the west coast with her California Rizing tour & appearance at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival. Between fellow conscious artists Kelissa warming things up every night of the tour, the powerful Jah9 joining the bill for select dates as well as DJ Shacia Payne, daughter of Stephen Marley, the tour speaks heavily to the current rise of the feminine within the genre.
In preparation for the upcoming tour, I chatted with Nattali to find out more about her past, her inspirations and her commitment to furthering her message through music.
QUESTION: Nattali Rize music has had a consistent focus on activism, pointedly drawing attention to specific causes while maintaining a more general call-to-action for listeners. Growing up, were you always someone focussed on outward injustices? What was the path that lead to this becoming such a highlight in your work as an artist and songwriter?
Nattali Rize: From a young age I was aware of the fact that there was such a thing as injustice, racism and inequality. I was raised by a single mom who worked in various comeUnity organisations, including the Polynesian comeUnity and Indigenous Australians, as well as foster kids, homeless youth and any/many marginalised peoples.
Parents are your first teachers. So grateful that my mum was also my first guitar teacher, someone who raised me to the soulful, conscious soundtrack of Jimmy Cliff, Judy Mowatt, Bob Marley, Santana, Womack & Womack, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, The Eagles, and the list goes on... I am grateful that she is a community minded spirit and always worked and raised me alongside the families and communities she was helping to bring justice to.
She has supported every decision I've made from locking my hair at 10yrs old to leaving the school system to be a musician! Under the roof of her many houses, she has taken in the homeless, the lost, the wandering, the young and rebellious, the single mothers and the lonely. What a Rebel she is... so yea, I would say that she is a big reason I am who I am.
QUESTION: The California Rizing tour is around the corner. As an international artist, what does California represent to you in the reggae world? What makes this tour in particular special to you?
NR: California is a thriving landmass of long standing and deep seeded support for the reggae genre, the culture and the art. I have been inspired across the past couple of years touring California with other bands and at festivals, to see so much love and such an active reggae community present and ready to be a part of the live music experience.
For us, this tour is a big step. It’s our first headlining tour in the USA, and it comes from years of working tirelessly to bring our music and message to The People.
And while we are still working round the clock in multiple territories, we wanted to make a point of bringing our first headlining shows to California where we feel we have built a solid community of fellow warriors and frequency shifters.
The best way for people to support the music and the message, is to come to the live shows and to experience the full length performance.
QUESTION: This upcoming tour has you co-billing with fellow female Jamaican reggae artist Jah9 in Santa Barbara. Have the two of you spent much time making music together in the past? Are there any upcoming collaborations in the works?
NR: We have a song together called ‘Evolutionary’ which also features our bro Dre Island from Jamaica. Jah9 is one of my favourite artists right now and we’re honored to have her join us for the Santa Barbara show. We’re also very conscious about the decision to unite with a female artist as we feel it is time for more Balance across our genre, both in the states and in other territories.
We also have Kelissa joining us from Jamaica for the whole tour, she is an incredible artist with beautiful songs that I know the California audiences will connect with—I’m sure a lot of them are already connected!
QUESTION: Your Santa Cruz show has a special beneficiary: American Relief Centers, or ARC. This Santa Cruz based organization is focussed on women’s rights and safety in Ghana. How do you go about finding organizations that you want to shine a light on via your platform as a performer? Do you feel there is an inherent responsibility that comes with having an audience to draw attention to important causes?
NR: There is definitely a responsibility to use whichever platform you have to do the greatest good in life. For us that’s our music, the stage, the microphone… so for me personally it always has and always will be a staple element of what I do as a human being, an artist and a band leader.
We find that the right people and organizations come to us or we come to them, at the right times. There are very organic relationships that bloom when there are like minded intentions driving actions and ideas, guiding them into manifestation. That's when we see people like ARC come forward into our awareness and our lives.
We fully endorse the work ARC is doing and receive regular updates on their activity in Ghana. We have been so pleased to see fans at shows across the country support them with us and purchase a tour poster to donate 100% of the profits to ARC and their ongoing works. Visit americanreleifcenters.org for more info and to learn how you can be a part of the Mission.
QUESTION: What drew you to reggae music and how has the genre enabled you to get your message across? Your music has a distinct revolutionary edge to it reminiscent of some of the early pioneers of the genre. Nattali Rize music aside, is the genre losing this revolutionary edge as its popularity grows?
NR: What drew me to reggae music as a young kid was initially the feeling of the music, the rhythm and the melodies. Then, as I grew up, I realised that the message in the music was REAL and that made me fall in love with it even more. My favourite music from all across all genres is usually the conscious sounds and lyrics that share the reality of living in a world environment and current world system that values profits over people, money over Life and Love itself.
I think there are plenty of revolutionary artists out here today. I call them Evolutionary, because it is through our own individual evolution, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental growth, that we are really starting to craft a new reality, new ways of living, loving, thinking and just Being… in line and in tune with our highest selves and our highest potential as evolving beings of light that are here to learn, share and grow. The more we Unify the stronger we are. To realise that we have to fully know and LOVE ourselves first… then we are able to love the other and the whole.
Listen to Kabaka Pyramid’s new album Kontraband as just one example of international Evolutionary music.
QUESTION: The past couple years have been marked by growing international turbulence in the political arena, emphasized by a rise in nationalistic movements, economic inequality and race driven violence. Is it easier to make art in times of turmoil vs. times of tranquility? How does the global condition activate you as a songwriter?
NR: I haven’t seen a time of global tranquility, which is why the global environment, political and human reality has always inspired me greatly. For as long as there is an injustice and imbalance in the quality of life each being experiences, there will be a song to sing and a mission to complete. We know it’s not as simple as one song can save the world, but make no mistake that the many songs and chants we create send out a very real energy that will inevitably conquer the systems that are fundamentally built to oppress and deny livity, peace and freedom. This is the Rizing of our Consciousness into higher heights where We as a majority do not adhere to false authority nor babylonian regimes or mentality.
We are very conscious of the powerful effect of music and the power it restores to us, that it shares and the ability it has to unite us across colonial, corporate borders.
If we can empower the minds of people. We can free them from mental slavery. If we can free them from mental slavery then they become agents of Freedom and planters of the seeds that will reap new Freedoms in others, which will ignite and Amplify the creation of new realities & lifestyles tuned to higher frequencies and a Freedom for All.
That is what we do with our music, with our songs… we plant seeds and reaffirm other seed planters while reamplifying our own intentions and Mission for FULL FREEDOM.
KEEP RIZING! I’m with you!