Reggae icon Burning Spear continues to showcase his commitment to his core beliefs with his latest offering, the Grammy-nominated album No Destroyer. This album, recorded in 2011 at New York City’s Magic Shop and released in August 2023, marks a poignant turn in Spear’s illustrious career and adds a personal dimension to his celebrated discography.
With 14 Grammy nominations in the Best Reggae Album category — only surpassed by Ziggy Marley‘s 17 nods — Spear has won the Award twice, in 2000 for Calling Rastafari and again in 2009 for Jah is Real. His other nominated albums include Resistance (1986), People of the World (1988), Mek We Dweet (1991), The World Should Know (1994), Rasta Business (1996), Free Man (2004), Our Music (2006), and The Burning Spear Experience (2008).
Born Winston Rodney, Spear’s upbringing in St. Ann’s Bay laid the foundation for his musical journey. His stage name, inspired by African leader Jomo Kenyatta, known as the Burning Spear before becoming Kenya’s president, reflects his deep connection to African heritage. Years later, he remains a true disciple of the teachings of pan-Africanist and fiery orator Marcus Garvey, who preached self-reliance and political unification for all African descendants. In his live performances, Burning Spear often swings between righteous sermons urging patrons to live a righteous life and heartfelt laments about the state of affairs in the world. He has not deviated from the path of uplifting his race through his oeuvre and the underlying message of righteousness, justice, and truth.
As the Grammy Awards approach, set for February 4 at the Crypto.com Arena in California, Spear spoke with DancehallMag about what his latest album means to him.
Why do you think that people are so loving this No Destroyer album?
The album is real, it’s clean and it’s honest. Take the title track No Destroyer. You have your plant and please note that your plant can be anything, anyone, your family, your friends of whom you are protective right? You don’t want nothing to happen to them. No Destroyer to mess with your loved ones. You want them to flourish. Take the song, Mommy, times are hard for some of us financially with medical expenses etc. Mommy is always there for us. She has to plan. Sometimes daddy, don’t know where it’s coming from. This album has something for everyone. It’s for all my fans globally.
You announced your retirement in 2016, but returned in 2021. What did you miss most? And why did you decide to return?
Yes I man, took a pause or a break. We can’t retire from what His Majesty assigns us to do. It’s a mission and I am fan driven . I truly missed my fans. Their energy make I man bloom.
When will you return to perform in Jamaica?
I man love Jamaica 🇯🇲 still waiting on my fans if they say Spear come to Jamaica to perform then I will. To I man it’s about my fans. I will go where they want I man to go universally and respectfully.
Are you pleased with how world has embraced Marcus Garvey in the year 2023? Or are you disappointed? Should Jamaica have a national holiday in his honour and expunge his record?
Marcus Mosiah Garvey. Mr. Garvey. We need a public holiday. Subjects in school from infant school through university on Mr. Garvey. Why can’t his record be expunged? I will climb the tallest building and shout it out loud and clear. We need to respect Mr. Garvey everytime.
You achieved a Reggae Grammy with an independent label in 2009, Garvey would have been proud. What are your hopes for this album?
My hopes is for this album to reach all my fans old and new. For them to be touched by this album. To heal in some way.
This is an emotional album. Winning the Grammy would be awesome as this project is the last one that I worked on with my wife before she got sick. So on every level, it’s an awareness album. Bringing light to diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Nothing to be ashamed of. Let’s bring awareness to lead to a cure.
What’s your favorite song on the album?
I man don’t have a favorite that wouldn’t be fair. But for sure Negril which was written by myself and my wife Sonia, and Cure for Cancer, so many people suffering hurting 💔 I man want to bring awareness and help in anyway to find a cure.
Jamaica 🇯🇲 where is the one love man? We need to love and respect each other.
Rastafari love. Keep the spear burning.. peace.