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Black Roots

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Black Roots, not to be confused with Sugar Minott’s project of the same name, formed in Bristol, England in the early 80s. The line-up comprised Errol Brown (vocals), Delroy Ogilvie (vocals), Kondwani Ngozi (congas, vocals), Jabulani Ngozi (rhythm guitar), Cordell Francis (lead guitar), Carlton Roots (keyboard, vocals), Trevor Seivwright (drums) and Derrick King (bass). The group soon established an ardent clique of local supporters following a series of live appearances where they demonstrated their awesome talent. They gained wider exposure when they appeared on the first televised edition of Rockers Roadshow, a showcase of British black music screened in the early days of Channel 4. The group, introduced by Mikey Dread, performed the popular hits ‘Move On’, ‘Survival Time’, ‘Africa’ and opened the show with a tribute to one of the UK’s first immigrant slaves, Scipio Africanus, buried in Whiteladies Road on Blackboy Hill in the St. Pauls district of Bristol. They established themselves as a powerful and potent force in reggae and initiated an exhaustive touring programme promoting Black Roots. The collection appeared on their Nubian label and was met with much acclaim from the reggae media, and even crossed into the mainstream when reviewed in The Guardian. The growing interest in the band inspired the BBC to commission the group to provide the theme tune to The Front Line, a situation comedy featuring two black brothers, one a streetwise dreadlocked rasta and the other a policeman. The opening sequence of the show featured the band performing the song and led to an album of the same name. In the same year the group released ‘Juvenile Delinquent’, which bubbled under the national chart when licensed to the Kick label. The group accompanied Linton Kwesi Johnson and Eek A Mouse on European tours, attracting favourable reviews. In 1985 the group maintained their profile, performing at the WOMAD festival in Essex alongside Toots And The Maytals and Thomas Mapfumo. Deemed as a conscientious roots outfit, the group enrolled the production skills of the Mad Professor to produce their third album, which also featured accompaniment from Vin Gordon and Michael ‘Bammi’ Rose. The compilation included a remarkable lovers rock track, ‘Seeing Your Face’, with Carlton Roots on lead vocals, which was sadly overlooked for a single release, as was a cover version of the Fat Larry’s Band hit, ‘Zoom’. In 1988 the group released ‘Start Afresh’, which was moderately successful, and demonstrated their versatility with the appropriately titled In A Different Style. Further sessions with the Mad Professor followed in the late 80s when the depleted band enrolled the multi-talented Black Steel to amplify the sound, resulting in the enchanting ‘Guide Us’, ‘Voice Of The People’ and ‘Natural Reaction’.

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Bristol, England

Years Active: