Nelly Stharre
Gig Seeker Pro

Nelly Stharre

Roseau, Saint George, Dominica | INDIE

Roseau, Saint George, Dominica | INDIE
Band World Reggae


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Nelly Stharre crusades for love, non-violence through music"

Nelly Stharre is a unique artiste who uses her music to bring about change, which she says has been a long time coming. She lives and breathes her music, which is a beautiful thing to experience because of how passionately she crusades.

Nelly Stharre

Her songs tell stories, often of a woman’s struggle in all aspects of her life including Nelly’s own tale of fighting to spread her message of love, hope and non-violence in a music business that would like her to dress differently; sing of things contrary to her beliefs and sell sex to sell records.

Nelly Stharre (pronounced Star) has been defiant; refusing to bow to the pressures of “being someone I am not” and singing songs she considers damaging to her image as a positive, powerful, emerging voice in the Caribbean. She has not found mainstream success as a consequence, but she is known in the French-speaking Caribbean and is set to reach new audiences with her inclusion in the United Nations Secretary General’s ‘Unite to End Violence Against Women’ campaign. The campaign’s regional launch was held in Barbados on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

“I am a musical revolutionary; I believe in fighting for something with music and there are so many things to fight for. My motto is that music is the weapon of the people with no guns and ammunition; you can utilize music for change…,” Nelly said during a recent sit-down with The Scene.

She is hugging her guitar as the conscious words flow from her lips. Nelly’s hair is dreadlocked, neatly covered with a woven hat and matching wrap and she is casually attired in a long, flowing dress bearing the emblems of the Rastafarian culture.

Nelly writes every song with the belief that a verse or a line will uplift someone; “a young person”, she said. She feels that it is important to put out the right message, particularly for young girls and women who are turning on the radio to listen and or are watching music videos.

Nelly’s first album ‘Wake Up’ was released in 1994 and it was largely Creole music; she recorded the album in Guadeloupe. She co-wrote the title track on the album which she explained was calling on her generation to wake up, move forward and take charge. A politician (count on one to follow suit) from her native Dominica grabbed the album title and campaigned with it telling voters he was awake and ready to create change; the run inspired many people in the country.

‘Rain Jah’ was her second album and it told the story of a man who worked to build his life through hard labour on a farm and his farm later goes up in flames. “He cries, praising to the creator to let it rain and rain to me signifies redemption,” Nelly said.

Her third album, ‘Soul Country’ spoke of a world free of hate, war and pain. She said even the animals conversed with humans in ‘Soul Country’ since she believes “we are all related”. ‘Soul Country’ for her is not a physical place, but a place where you go looking for peace, keeping calm and finding yourself. She is currently working on a fourth album.

“I want to do music that will last for the next 30/40 years; I want to do it in a way that it benefits the next generation because that is very important to me,” she says. Her music has a roots/reggae/culture vibe, but there is also an element of blues. She also sings folk and her style is characterized by an intense passion and varying moods.

Her influences range from Bob Marley to Nina Simone and Billie Holiday and according to her, their music was passionate and real. Nelly praises Holliday and Simone saying she loved what they stood for. “They were very strong black women singing and rising in difficult times. I take so much inspiration from that,” she added.

Nelly has been singing longer than she can remember and was actively involved in poetry and theatre during her school days. “I can’t give you years,” she says.

Being part of the ‘Unite’ campaign is something she is proud of, saying she is also involved in other women’s groups and the ‘Year of the Child’ group in Dominica. Nelly says being part of the ‘Unite’ movement allows her to make a direct contribution to changing the culture of violence in the region; but it is also about her continuing her work and spreading her message.

Nelly identifies herself as an activist for various causes and she wrote a song for the ‘Unite’ campaign which she will call, “A Woman’s Prayers”. She had no name for the song at the time of the interview, but it looks at the strength of a woman in the face of trials. When she performed the song live in Barbados it felt more than a performance; it was an experience.

On a personal level, Nelly’s family experienced domestic violence and she grew up watching an aunt suffer. She said the fight to change attitudes and target young people, including boys, is something she considers important. Nelly recalls that when she decided to take up singing as a career there was some resistance from her family since there were expectations for her to take up medicine or law. “That was not where my passion was; I followed my heart,” she says.

Nelly admits that she has a difficultly working for people including record labels because she has issues with people telling her what to sing and how to market herself. She was previously signed with companies in Guadeloupe and France but is currently working as an independent musician. She said some people even see her as a troublemaker because of how outspoken she is sometimes.

She is a mother of three and has been travelling throughout the French Caribbean to promote her music. Her music is also on the internet. She says people can find her music on YouTube if they search for her by name and she is also on Reverbnation and MySpace at ( - Stabrock news

"woman of the earth"

Woman of the Earth
By paulcrask On July 1, 2010 · Leave a Comment

This feature appears in the Jul / Aug 2010 issue of Caribbean Beat

I first saw Nelly Stharre on stage in Dominica ten years ago, singing songs that made the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end. Dressed in a forest green jacket, matching long skirt and black boots, she looked like a child of Che Guevara. I was completely hooked and rushed out the next day to buy her latest CD, Rain Jah. It was her second album at the time; a collection of reggae that embraced Rastafarianism, challenged those who sought to ‘lick you with sticks and bricks and break your feelin’ and, with ballads such as Inside Of Me, offered soulful insights into the artist’s innermost thoughts and sensitivities. Rain Jah followed her 1995 debut album Wake Up !, an ensemble of mostly zouk songs recorded in Guadeloupe during a period of her life that still conjures up sad memories but which, she says, has made her stronger and brought her to where she is today.

Soul Country in 2004 was an album that suggested Nelly was on a musical journey, maturing as an artist and not afraid to experiment. It is a fusion of cadence and reggae and, though the sounds are collectively beautiful, it is the depth and richness of the lyric that makes this piece of work such a success. Problem, for instance, is a no-holds-barred declaration of war on injustice through the medium of music (‘music is the weapons of the people with no guns and ammunition’) and the chilling Leaders of The World is a sentient anthem of our time that simply demands your attention (‘you’ve got the feed the people / that’s the only solution / children can’t get nutrition from wars and ammunition’).

“I don’t really write happy songs,” she smiles. “But when I perform live I see joy on the faces of the audience as they get consciousness from my music. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

When I was arranging the interview, Nelly asked me to take her hiking somewhere she had never been to before; ‘preferably somewhere green and with water’.

“I can’t get through a day without being in water” she says. “When I come home I take off in the afternoons and spend hours by the river. They send out rescue parties looking for me.” She was back in Dominica arranging a jazz concert, the latest show she was co-promoting under the ‘Year of The Child” banner, a charitable movement aimed at helping children in need; those who find themselves either homeless, in trouble with the law, abused, or orphaned because of AIDS. She undertakes similar fund-raising work in Jamaica where she has lived on and off for several years with her husband and three young children.

Born in the year of Dominica’s notorious Dread Act (1974), Nelly Stharre picked up the nickname Revolutionary Baby. It is a title that seems to fit perfectly with both a rebellious adolescence and a philosophical adulthood. “I have always been a rebel,” she says. “At school I would stand up for the underdog or against something that I thought was wrong. I was always getting into trouble.”

Nelly attended a strict Roman Catholic high school and found attitudes oppressive. “The problem with questioning things and wanting to believe in something different was that people couldn’t accept it. If you didn’t conform, they thought there was something wrong with you. Maybe you were possessed. Maybe you needed medication. Maybe you should be put on a psychiatric ward.” I wondered if her non-conformity was a key factor in her becoming such a dedicated Rastafarian ?

“You don’t become a Rasta. It is inside you,” she says. “It has always been there. You just have to connect with it. Everyone has it. I remember once writing that I thought Jesus was a bit of a Rasta, enduring everything he did. I got into lots of trouble for that too,” she grins.

I have brought Nelly on a short hike to a waterfall she has not seen before and she is delighted. In fact she seems eager to forget about the interview entirely and just jump into the clear waters of the pool.

“I have a connection to nature that is hard to put into words. I just feel it, you know ? That’s why I am planning to come back to live in Dominica. It’s time. Nature is calling me, she is speaking to me. When I was a girl I used to run away into the bush. I’d walk all the way up the Roseau Valley, just me and my dog. The guys on their farms all knew me. I was always doing it. Trust me, if you spend enough time with me, you’ll think I’m crazy; talking to rocks and trees, that kind of thing. But there’s something about Dominica. I can’t stay away.”

I wonder what made her leave in the first place. She has spent time abroad, studying and living in the US and UK and now she has a home in Kingston, Jamaica.

“There are good and bad qualities to Jamaica and Dominica. Sometimes I wish I could just take the best bits of both, put them together and live in that place. With Dominica, it’s nature. With Jamaica it is acceptance. Rastas are part of society there; completely integrated and respected for who they are. It has been good for my children. I think in Dominica people have never properly confronted nor dealt with everything that took place during the time of the Dread Act. Terrible things happened. The police could shoot you just for having locks, and they did. That legacy, the class attitudes, the misunderstandings, they are all still there somehow and so I don’t think Rastas enjoy that same level of acceptance yet.”

But it is clear Nelly Stharre is ready to return. Just looking at her in these surroundings of rainforest and waterfalls makes me realize how difficult it must have been for her to leave in the first place. Nelly is a fam tew, a woman of the earth. Unable to wait any longer, she decides it is time for a bathe and when I watch her swimming under the water, she seems to be an integral part of the scenery.

She returns refreshed and beaming. I ask her about new music and she tells me to expect an album in summer. It has been a long wait.

“It’s because I’m more interested in lyrics. If it takes me forever to write good words that can last twenty or more years, then so be it. I’d rather do that than write something everyone will just forget. Actually I don’t think I’m that good a singer anyway. I love words more. I like to write poetry.”

This time the songs are a fusion of blues and reggae and include Pirates, Life Goes On, and the wonderful Moon Men, a number that defies its catchy refrain by suggesting that if mankind can achieve amazing things like sending men to the moon, then letting people starve and live in poverty must be a deliberate act. So the rebellion is still there ?

“Of course,” she smiles. “Jah willing, the sun rises every day and will always give us the opportunity to do things better.” - caribbean beat

"Caribbean artistes urged to do more to push positive music"

“Positive music is not popular music,” says Adisa Jelani Andwele, UNDP Spokesper-son for Peace and Poverty Eradication and according to him, the Caribbean region has a deficit of artistes who are willing to use music positively.

Adisa was recently asked by UN officials to gather several artistes in the region to participate in the United Nations Secretary General Campaign- Unite to End Violence Against Women. He spoke of the experience and the roles artistes should play at the launch of the campaign in Barbados.

Michelle Gyles-McDonnough

Adisa hailed the inclusion of artistes in the fight to end domestic violence as “important”, noting that the time has come for musicians to act more responsibly and to join the global movement in ending violence against women and girls.

But according to him the entertainment business is about “getting rich, being famous and selling millions of records”. The interest to promote positive music is not high on the agenda of industry executives who are scouting for talent, he said, adding that some artistes are left with no choice.

Major records companies are not interested in what a particular artiste wants to sing when they sign them, he stated, adding “they tell you what they want you to sing”. He said control over content and image is not up to artistes.

Speaking of fellow Barbadian artiste and international superstar Rihanna he said, her label and industry backers had an opportunity to use her as a voice against violence against women following the incident with Chris Brown. He said they decided to go for edgier, controversial and “some amount of violence”.

Adisa said artistes have a social responsibility to make a difference and to sing positive music to the youths. “…How do you change a mindset, a media that has glorified violence and the negatives through music and films?” he asked.

He said that boys are growing up believing that the more violent they are the better, because of what some of them are exposed to in the society and the music they listen to, among other things.

He continued that some artistes often point to the fact that they come from a violent environment and have no choice but to sing about it, but he disagrees. He said that those artistes should be singing about the positives and about non-violence to change the mindset of the people who listen to their music. “…If you grow up knowing about war why not sing about peace?”

He said the Unite campaign will also target radio deejays and television personalities to get them onboard with spreading positive messages and changing the culture of violence that plagues the region.

Adisa, Nelly StHarre and Minister Olivia Grange in Barbados during the launch of the campaign.

Speaking on the issue, UNIFEM’s Michelle Gyles-McDonnough said that the involvement of artistes in the social mobilization of the campaign is critical. “They have the power of voice, the power of the pen, and the power of personality,” she said, noting that they also influence the youths who are listening. She said too that their sustained contribution is very valuable because they are beamed into people’s homes all day.

Some participants at the Barbados forum questioned the music of some popular Jamaican artistes such as Mavado. “My son listens to him so I decided to listen to him and I don’t like this Mavado,” a woman said. Others praised artistes like Tarrus Riley, Queen Ifrica and Etana saying that their music represents a much needed change from what is in regular rotation.

The conversation on artistes in the region also shifted briefly on Jamaican artiste, Bounty Killer who has been detained on several occasions for allegedly abusing women.
Jamaica’s DDP, Paula Llewellyn pointed to a recent case on the island involving the singer where the victim alleged that she was badly beaten. However, she said women usually recant statements and would refuse to give evidence against the singer which resulted in him going free.

Jamaica’s Minister of Youth, Culture and Sport, Olivia Grange, who is also a former manager of Bounty Killer later, reported to participants that Bounty Killer got word of his name being featured at the conference and had communicated that he was ready to change and turn from his violent past.
- Examinar

"Nelly Stharre - Dominica's revolutionary baby"

In 1974 when the small Caribbean island of Dominica was instituting The Dread Act, a law banning the growing of locks and which lasted for 10 years, Rastafarian singer Nelly Stharre was born. Stharre comes from the school of other notable Dominican reggae artistes such as Nasio Fontaine and Reggae Cowboy and her musical message is shaped by the circumstances resulting from The Dread Act.

"It was a real tough time for us, so you find man become rebel in his way of expressing; and he didn't bow to the system because he wanted to be different and society didn't accept that," said Stharre. "So you find the music coming out of Dominica is different. Is not so much lovers rock, is music for a cause, for a change."

So as Stharre sang Peter Tosh's Old Vampire on the final night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival on Saturday, she not only did it justice but had the personal context with which to replicate the naked honesty in which Tosh recorded it.

"A lot of us who were born in 1974, they call us the revolutionary babies," she added.

Stharre performed on the talent stage of the festival, an alternate stage which provides entertainment during band changes on the main stage. As she delivered her original, Moon Men and Life Goes On, Stharre came across as genuine and passionate about the message of her music.

In Moon Men she sings:

"Man has gone to the moon

To the deepest parts of the ocean

Not a generation too soon

Still they just can't put an end to starvation"

"I like to say music is the weapon of the people with no guns and ammunition. This is my way of fighting against everything (negative) that is going on out there," she said.

- LeVaughn Flynn - Jamaica Star

"2008 Creole In The Park – Day Two from the VIP Booth"

Next on the main stage was Reggae star Nelly Stharre, who in my opinion rocked the crowd with a number of her mega hits like Peace & love and Soul Country from her 2004 album, entitled ‘Soul County’. - Dominica-Weekly


Wake up! (1995)
Rain Jah (1997)
Soul Country (2004)



Nelly Stharre’s music is a unique fusion of world beats that to date has produced an exquisite and exciting version of ‘One Drop reggae’, featured on her albums Rain Jah (1997) and Soul Country (2004), the latter of which was produced by the inimitable Clive Hunt, who has also worked with other French artists such as Alpha Blonde from Cameroon, Pierpoljak out of France, Boukman Eksperyans Haiti's leading band, Kreyol Syndikat and ‘Rai’ music star Khaled from Algeria.

She hails from the Nature Island of "Waitukubuli", which she says was ‘rediscovered’ and named Dominica by Christopher Columbus. Born in 1974 (the year the dread act was passed) under the tribe of Joseph, in the month of February, she’s a "Revolutionary Baby.” Through songs like “Chant Dem Go,” “No One,” “Leaders of The World” “Rise My Sister” and “Peace and Love” Nelly uses her powerful, stimulating lyrics and captivating live reggae accompaniment as agents of change; spreading her message of “One Perfect Love.”

Nelly has performed to glowing reviews at music festivals such as Dominica's World Creole Music Festival, the St Lucia Jazz Festival, Reggae Sumfest and Jamaica Jazz and Blues in Jamaica. She brings to centre stage an attitude that comprises a sense of purpose and an authenticity as a Caribbean woman. As an exceptional Reggae, Jazz, Blues and World Beat artiste, her music also echoes and fully endorses her versatility. This mother of three is fluent in English, French, French Creole and Jamaican Patois. Her zouk-influenced, 1995 album, Wake Up! was recorded entirely in French Creole.

Her musical efforts have been recognized in her native Dominica where she has won two Golden Drum Awards. Apart from her musical pursuits, her work with Womanbition and Year Of The Child concert series, have contributed financial and social support to charities in Jamaica and Dominica respectively.

Her upcoming album Lion Queen (published through her Calabash Heights International label) will once again feature production credits from Clive Hunt, as well as Wayne Armon, Steve Golding, Altafaan and Ziongates Records. Songs like “Moon Men”, “Life Goes On” and “If I Could” are a testament that quality, well-written, thought provoking Reggae music is alive and well.

"Music is the weapon of the people with no guns and ammunition"
Nelly Stharre