Norris Man Interview
Interview at Palookaville
Santa Cruz, California - November 18, 2000
Photography and Interview by Diane Adam ©2000
“I know, good things, no matter what the wicked say, to Jah I pray
always….Remember, King Selassie you have to embrace. Remember, love you have to
bring inna de place. Gimme the words of righteousness me go deal with dem case.
No hold no levels can’t follow back a me trace. Hey, snake waist for dem lose
dem place. Babylon, I come to deal with your case. Buckle up your belt and
tightened up your shoes lace. Dis King Selassie den you gone ohhhhh….”
I know, good things, no matter what the wicked say, to Jah I pray always….Bust
up dem bet just because, ahh. Dem don’t live up to Selassie I law. Me tell dem
don’t come dis lion paw ‘bout dem X-rated blood up pon raw. Now dem gone end up
in a de beast man claw. And a tell me ‘bout dem never did war. Pure card dem
draw it sleep on the corner. A dem go rob, a dem shoot, a dem go kill, ahhhhh.”
“I Know Good Things” from the album, Better Your Soul
on Jah Scout Records
Diane Adam: We’re in Santa Cruz, California and I’d like to introduce Norris
Man to the people.
Norris Man: Welcome and give thanks to be here. This is my third or fourth
time in Santa Cruz, I even performed in this place before, me and Anthony B. and
DA: Here at Palookavile?
NM: Yes. Right here! I know that I have my fans and they really turned out
tonight to see me, even though the promotion wasn’t so good but we still give
DA: I know that many people did not know that you were coming until the last
NM: I thought so, but we still try our best to give a good show.
DA: Yes, as always Norris, your performance was beautiful.
NM: Give Thanks.
DA: I’m hearing now that you are now coming out with a new album on a new
label. Can you tell us more?
NM: I’ve been working with this bredren some two to three years now. We
have done a couple of singles.
DA: What is his name?
NM: His name is Colin McGreggor and he is also a guitarist who I have
introduced on stage not long ago playing one of my title songs from the new
album, Better Your Soul on Jah Scout Records.
NM: So, we said to ourselves, since we have been working together so long and
having producing many good songs, like “Hold On To Your Faith” -- Colin is the
producer of that song – we decided now that he deserves an album. We worked
very hard on this album and that was the reason that I spent most of my time in
California from these last days trying to finish up the album. Now, its
completed and VP has made us an offer, so we are just waiting back to hear from
them and if they’re going to take it and if not, we can put it out. It’s sure
to be released in January or February of 2001. I’m positive about that.
Norris Man’s new CD, Better Your Soul on the Jah Scout Records
DA: Where did the name for the album title derive from?
NM: Well, as the title goes with the whole biography…Norris Man’s life style
and what IanI have to say as a messenger and this trip we are going to a level
where we are saying that we need music to better our soul. We don’t need music
to bring any violence any vibe. We don’t want to come into a dancehall and see
bottle throwing and shots firing, you know? We want to see peace and happiness
and love throughout the dancehall, and whatever we have to say to the nation, we
always try our best to let our words to be positive and clean and upright in Jah
sight. Whatever we have say…singers and players of instruments all our springs
are in thee.Psalms 87:7 We must also remember that we are the role model of the
people who look up to us. So we give you music not only to make you jumpin’ up
and down without any message behind it, you know? The music that you get this
time now is to better your soul, you know?
NM: This album has a more warm feeling a little bit of R&B, a little bit of
Country & Western, you know what I’m saying.
DA: Yes, it’s very uplifting.
NM: Yeah. You have your choice and you can pick songs from the album, which
you like. There is always a flavor for you and this is what will make the album
DA: Norris, how did you get started with the music.
NM: Well, I started at a very tender age in the ghetto part of Kingston,
Jamaica in Trench Town where Bob Marley was from. I grew up in Jones Town
area…and I was influenced by school friends who always tell me, “you have a
great talent” -- ‘caa I started first to sing and they say, “oh, you have a nice
voice” and I could cover songs of Lionel Richie and songs of Whitney Houston,
back in the day, and Kenny Rogers. ‘Till I gradually start to go out on sound
systems professionally and they would give me the mike, but in those days I was
very small so (smiling) they would have to put me up on a Guinness box. Then I
went on and on until I gradually became professional and in 1993, I voiced my
first song, it was called “New Lick”. In those days there was an influence
where it’s the songs about the girls and the flashy things, you know? In those
days it was those songs that we were wailing on. It came about when Garnett
Silk and Tony Rebel and the whole culture thing began, Buju Banton had converted
Capelton and you know Anthony B. and from there I started to grow my locks and
see the positive road and being also not an influence like a bad role model but
a good role model, you know. Buju Banton was a mentor as well as Bob Marley and
all those cultural artists. So, I choose to take the road and choose Rastafari.
To me it has been a wonderful time and the best ever in my life, you know? I
really find His Imperial Majesty. I never find no time in my life that I can
say this is the worst, you know. There are many ups and downs but I still give
thanks, you know. My cultural levels and my cultural instinct lead me on and on
and on to a more righteous thought. I try my best to be more professional not
only in recording but also my performance. Try to keep fit, healthy…
DA: The way you jump around on stage…its clear that you’re very fit!
NM: (Laughing) Well, as Bob say, the music it say, you feel no pain, so
sometimes you do some things and when you’re watching back the tape you say, oh
was really that me going on like that? But you know it’s just a vibe as you say
its just a spirit and I think music is really something spiritual you know and
something uplifting and when it hits you it makes you do things that even they
even say you are crazy, as Bob say, “Kinky Reggae”. So, we do give thanks and
carrying out the work and know that it is always a positive way.
DA: Norris how did you, Anthony B and the Startrail Family hook up?
NM: Well, it was from a very long time like 1994-95. Anthony B has been
with Startrail for a very long time from Everton Blender days. So, I was an
artist who not really have a bonafide producer or anyone who I really look to,
so I met this person from Canada and his name is Iley Dread and he decided to
spend some time with me and that’s when I became know to the Jamaican public
where I launched my song “Persistence” that album that you know. I give thanks
for him, he was the first man to ever produce a song and put it out and it made
(from left to right) Startrail Family members, Steven “Snagga” Richards,
Richard “Bello” Bell, Anthony B. and
Samuel “One Drop” Richards
NM: Well, the second person I lift up my hand to and give thanks is Richard
Bell who is the owner of Startrail, you know. George Gold and the whole team
work and there is where I really met Anthony B. and we have a nice voice
together. Well, they say the reason why we really have something in common is
because we were born in the same month ‘cause he’s March (Norris is now 27 years
old) and I’m March. We think alike and you know wherever we go they always
wonder if we are twins. I always open shows for him and it is very wonderful.
DA: I want to ask you a question about your voice because its something
about the way you sing slightly off key to a point that just kind of pulls
something in your heart it’s so beautiful. Somebody else might say, “oh he’s
singing off key” but there is something very unique about the pitch that you
sing in how did you develop that style of singing?
NM: Well, you know, to some people who don’t understand music, they wouldn’t
know if you’re on key or off key. There are certain patterns and there are
certain styles and melodies and break of your voice and octaves and levels and
range that you would put the music…like if was a dubwise you would be rolling
your tongue or maybe whistling giving a certain sound which it’s not really off
key but it’s just really a different style and a different flavor. Sometimes,
when you are in your performance, it’s always best to try something new, you can
never tell if it will work but sometimes when you try it sometimes it does work.
(me Jah works every time) Most of times it works! Then you well back to the
studio and you just voice it. It’s all about creativity.
DA: Yes I. The creative process is remarkable.
DA: Norris, I overstand that you, Anthony B and the Startrail family just
returned from Africa.
NM: Yes, we went to *Gambia.
(*Gambia is a small--4,000 square miles/11,295 sq. km--country in West Africa.
It is surrounded by Senegal on all sides, except on the Atlantic coast, and for
this reason the two countries have a lot of ethnic and cultural ties. In
contrast to Senegal, a former French colony, The Gambia was colonized by Britain
and gained it's Independence on February 18, 1965.)
NM: First, we landed in Senegal, drove around 15 hours through Mali reach to
the boarder of Gambia where we take the ferry to go cross the sea. It was a
wonderful experience and we see good things and we see bad thing you know. We
now understand that Africa is really a nice place and we have the land space to
develop and the people love is there for us and the support within the music but
there is one important thing I would like to really address you know. I’m
wondering why they give the people newspaper to wrap their bread and their
sugar, you know? They told me it was the white man that did that, you know?
NM: Because I’m not seeing that in America, you know? I’m not seeing that
anywhere else in the world.
DA: Well, I’m thinking that they probably got this from England because
they wrap their fish and chips in newspaper.
NM: I was told so…yeah…it was England. What’s happening now is that the
people are being contaminated with all types of diseases. Diseases that they
can’t even recognize much less to cure. A man has a simple liver spot or germs
like ringworm and don’t even know what to do when there are pharmaceutical
purposes for it and there is nothing to aid them, you know? And you wonder why.
Africa is such a big place and they use cars like Benz in Africa and you see
wonderful hotels build by the white man and yet the roads not fixed. A
policeman a work 24-seven and maybe only get 100 U.S. dollars for dem work.
Really we need to call out to all the leaders of the nation, and you see myself
and my opinion, I think the United Nation is just a front according to Buju
Banton, you know? We call out not only for Gambia, but we call out for Sudan
and Ethiopia as well. So, what we are trying to establish as Rastafarians is to
come together – as His Imperial Majesty says, “organize and centralize” and then
we can do something, we can put together our resources and see what we can do,
you know? Because if someone doesn’t start den there is not going to be
anything done. If everyone sits aside and say they not going to do it, it won’t
start. So in the summer, I will be back in Gambia for June. We are trying to
put together funds and try to build a little school or something. We have a
couple of bredrens who are now in Ghana and they are doing their own
development. Give thanks for dem and their support -- for me and myself and my
crew or my family members of Rastafarian group as well as Anthony B. and the
Startrail family. As I say, we decide to go back down there in June and try to
do some form of development for the youth so that we can remember that someone
can be a role model and do what they are doing and come and help.
DA: Norris, do you have a website set up now where people can find out more
about what you are doing.
NM: Yes, its called Jah Scout and you can access it at www.jahscout.com You
can also see the bio of Norris Man and there will be more information about
trodding through Gambia and going places around the world. As you know, Diane,
I am here on the circuit from around 1997 and I have been touring through the
snow, through the summer, through the autumn, through the winter. We have a lot
of things to say, so we put it out there on the Internet.
Norris Man performing at Renegade Festival in Quincy, California – August 2000
DA: Its great to see you out here Norris on your own tour.
NM: Well, we decided to do that not long ago you know. To tell you the
truth, we are really rejuvenating our positions where we are now. Where
management is concerned, the development and what is going on within the camp
and IanI welfare and about my career and how further I am going to go. I am not
really satisfied with what going on right now, so I intend to just put out my
effort and do my thing and see if I can put a little energy towards the
DA: Norris, your previous CD, Persistence on VP Records was a real masterpiece
that introduced most of your fans to your special brand of singing. How has the
word ‘persistence’ helped you in your life and career?
NM: Well, persistence means no matter what you do in life once it’s for your
own good and your welfare. If you work and do something to uplift yourself, I
think with perseverance it will take you to a higher level. You know how life
is, you’re working to try to get better in life but still there are many
obstacles. Sometime even in your own work place you have competition, even in
the music field you have competition but when you look around you don’t need to
cry and no need to get soft hearted because you can’t be sorry for yourself in
this time, you know? As a warrior, we say, no wasted tears in Babylon, you
know? We have to be strong, both woman and man, you know. Yeah, everyone is
emotional, everyone is compassionate, everyone has feelings but yet still it is
not for you to cry out to the world because when you think you are barring the
heaviest burden your burden is not the heaviest, there is always someone whose
worse. There is a story that a man who was hungry decided to kill himself and
he went into a banana tree and he only saw one ripe banana so he ate the banana
and threw the skin on the ground and when he look down, he see a man eating the
skin. So, he decided not to kill himself.
DA: (Smiling with Norris) Yes…it could always be worse. Give thanks Norris.
I really appreciate your taking this time to speak with me.
NM: We give thanks, nuff love and respect Diane, blessed. Haile Selassie I.
(c) 2000 by Diane Adam