Kenyatta Hill’s career began the day his father’s ended. Joseph Hill, singer and songwriter for the legendary Jamaican vocal trio Culture, collapsed and died while on a 2006 tour of Europe. To the amazement of promoters, fans and critics alike, Kenyatta stepped onstage and delivered electrifying performances time and again – nineteen shows in all – until the tour was complete. This was unheard of in any genre of music at any time. Kenyatta gave of himself so totally – as his father had for so many years – that the two seemed to become one, the eerily similar voices and the vibes igniting the critics and yielding a new reggae mantra “magic, not tragic!”
At the Ranny Williams Center in Kingston Jamaica at the memorial concert for his father, Kenyatta’s performance with Culture was the highlight in a star studded night and garnered him the rousing support of the hard-to-please Kingston reggae audience. Kenyatta went on to front Culture in a series of performances in the US, Caribbean, Brazil, Argentina and Peru, again leaving audiences amazed and delighted.
Influenced by elements of dancehall, grounded in the roots tradition and motivated to carry on his father’s work, Kenyatta set to writing – to finish songs that Joseph had started and create new music of his own. On his poignant debut single, “Daddy,” (Tafari Records), backed by a masterful roster of musicians including Sly Dunbar and Dean Fraser, and produced by Lynford “Fatta” Marshall, he confronted the emotional pain and uncertainty he felt after the loss of his father. He cried while he wrote, just as audiences in Europe had cried while he sang.
Pass the Torch, the complete CD described as having “a collector’s item feel,” was released in 2007 to longtime Culture fans and critics who have embraced the son, named for Jomo Kenyatta, the first Prime minister of Kenya. With its “very lovely and high level vibe” Kenyatta Hill’s first CD prompted one longtime Culture fan to proclaim “Culture is ALIVE.”
Indeed, Culture featuring Kenyatta Hill continues to share the wisdom of Joseph’s conscious reggae overlaid with Kenyatta’s own lively and youthful musical vision. Touring in support of Pass the Torch with a number of festival appearances continued throughout 2009, including most recently a highly successful US tour with Beres Hammond.
Solo tour dates with a new band can be expected in 2010 as Kenyatta Hill expands his musical horizons beyond his formidable roots.