Nelly Stharre
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Nelly Stharre

Band World Reggae


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"Woman of the earth: Nelly Stharre"

- 2010

Ten years ago, when I saw Nelly Stharre on stage in Dominica for the first time, she sang songs that made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. Dressed in a forest-green jacket, matching long skirt and black boots, she looked like a child of Che Guevara. Completely hooked, I rushed out the next day to buy her latest CD, Rain Jah. It was her second album, 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 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 Stharre (pronounced “star”) 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 lyrics 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 an 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 says with a smile. “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 we were arranging the interview, Stharre 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 for 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”. (The Dread Act outlawed groups of alienated dreadlock-wearing youths, some of whom were violent.) 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.”

Stharre attended a strict Roman Catholic high school and found the 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.”

Was her non-conformity a 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.

After a short hike, we’ve reached a waterfall and she is delighted. In fact she seems eager to forget about the interview entirely and just jump into the clear waters of the po - Caribbean Beat

"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. - Sunday Star Break

"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.

- Star Break News

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

Day two started with performances by the Cool Steel Orchestra, La Sal Differwans (cultural group), and by one of Dominica’s young upcoming bands – Xcess Groove.

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

"Nelly Stharre - Dominica's revolutionary baby"

Nelly Stharre, a Dominican born, performing at the 2010 Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, held at the Trelawny Multi-Purpose Stadium last Saturday night. - noel thompson

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 - Jamaican Star - Entertainment


first Album: Wake up
Second Album: Rain Jah
third Album: Soul Country
New Single: Moon Men




The question of whether culture can be separated from politics has been asked time and time again without any conclusive answers. Over the last twenty five years Governments have come to realize the tremendous power of music, regardless of the genre. Entertainers have also realized how crucial a role they play in the advancement of socio-political, religious and economic issues that affect millions of people internationally. Thus in this time an entertainer can either be the voice of the people, a perpetrator of hype and propaganda or a conscious analyst, whose mission is to inspire and educate all who come in contact with his or her music. As an entertainer one must accept the responsibility that comes with having the power to sway opinions, and to influence the behavior of mannerism of thousands of people through one song. Nelly Stharre music through her sophomore album "Soul Country" established as a social commentator of exceptional relevance, especially in these crucial times. Born in her native Dominica, Nelly's introduction to music was a song entitled "Wake up Mike" a song written in the heat of general elections in Dominica in 1989. The song was intended to make Dominicans laugh at the unrealistic promises of politics. However, the song was categorized as being a classic. Nelly says she hails from the Nature Island of "Waitukubuli", which was later '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. "They call us "Revolutionary Babies" At fifteen years old little Nelly Stharre had become an household name, that was associated with bringing about a new Political awareness to thousands of Dominicans young and old. As a child Nelly grew up in a home where music was ever present. Her favorite artists included the late Nina Simone, known for her unapologetic stance against injustice and racial discrimination. Nelly's other favorite was Billy " lady day" Holiday who wrote a number of indelible chapters in Jazz and whose anthem " God Bless The Child that Got His Own" inspired millions, Nelly Stharre Included. Her music is a unique amalgamation of world beats and fusions, that to date has produced an exquisite and exciting blend of "One Drop reggae", with songs like ..Prick an eye..,..Building Bridges" and "Inside Of Me" from her RainJah collection." Poor In My Pocket" and Peace In The Middle East" from her latest album "Soul Country." "Soul Country" 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. As a Rastafarian Nelly has brought musicians to their feet at Dominica's World Creole Music Festival, the St Lucia Jazz Festival, In Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Grenada, Miami, London, Trinidad and and the "Reggae Sumfest" in Jamaica. She brings to centre stage an attitude that comprises a sense of purpose and an authenticity as a Caribbean woman. Her music also echoes and fully endorses her versatility. As an exceptional Reggae, Jazz, Blues and world Beat artiste, who's understanding of Caribbean culture has made her very special. Nelly is also fluent in French, English, French Creole and Jamaican. Nelly is married to Govan Wiggan, a Jamaican who plays an active role as manager and administrator, of their Calabash Heights International Records" based in Jamaica and Dominica. Her music has always been ahead of it's time; her new clear approach to music in general has influenced forward thinking artists throughout the English and French Speaking Caribbean. Singer Songwriter, Entertainer and Musicologist, Nelly Stharre's Music brings into sharp focus an in-depth understanding of Reggae and RastafarI. She also demonstrates on albums such as " " Soul Country that she has an international awareness of the power of music especially Reggae check her out. "Music is the weapons of the people with no guns and ammunition" Nelly Stharre