Soul of Shabaka Album CD

Soul of Shabaka Album CD Image


“If West African born singer/songwriter Freddy Shabaka doesn’t win listeners over with his words, the odds are good he’ll do it with his music…….Shabaka knows how to make his point effectively on several levels as a singer, songwriter and arranger”.- Washington Post.

Freddy Shabaka, was born, Frederick Cole in Freetown, Sierra Leone. His father is a Science Education Professor and his mother for the most part stayed at home and took care of the family until she got into the hotel business later in life. He got involved in music at an early age, forming a band called the Black Sparrows when he was about 9 years old. He has one brother and two sisters and the family was then living in the University town of Njala, which was 127 miles from the capital of Freetown. Prior to that, he spent his early childhood in Champaign/Urbana, where his father was studying at the University of Illinois in the late 60’s. It was during this period that he became influenced with the American music of the time i.e Temptations, Jackson 5,Isaac Hayes, James Brown etc

The family returned to Sierra Leone in 1970 where Freddy became influenced by African music and Reggae from Jamaica. He wrote his first song when he was 11and was an early fan of reggae greats Jimmy Cliff, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Culture etc. Upon entering the University of Sierra Leone, Freddy formed a band in college called “Fusion” to the alarm of the faculty. Fusion caused a sensation in Freetown at the time and motivated him to pursue his lifelong dream of a music career. He then left for Nigeria where he lived for 6 difficult months. During this time he met two Sierra Leonean musicians and a prominent Sierra Leonean producer, Akie Deen who then took them to London to record. During his stay in London Akie Deen was nowhere to be found most of the time and literally left Freddy to record on his own. Fortunately he had absorbed some production techniques from him and then decided to book studio time at the Matrix studios on his own.

At the time the studio was fully booked by a famous rock band Souxie and the Banchees and was not inclined to give up any time to a naïve young artist with very little money. Freddy at the time had no idea the rock band was famous and begged the studio owner for some time before returning to Sierra Leone. On overhearing the conversation one of the band members was nice enough to allow him use of one of the studios where Freddy recorded “Dem nor wan dance” which later became a number one hit in Sierra Leone. He lived in London for about 6 months after which he went back home. He then decided to make the U.S his last stop in his musical sojourn. He landed in New York in November 1985 with only $70 and a vision. This vision is now being realized.

Freddy’s first job in the U.S was a stint at Roy Rogers before working for several years as a news researcher and later became a partner in a small production facility that amongst other things attempted to produce an African TV magazine show. Freddy Shabaka is currently based in the Washington area and works as both a mortgage broker and an executive for Black Liberty Records, which was started by his partner and long time friend Alfonso Messam. Black liberty Records has become Freddy’s vehicle to fulfill his musical dreams.

His first recording in the U.S was a tape called FREE which spawned two number one hits “Dem nor wan dance” and “Goombay Jamming”. These songs were both number one in Sierra Leone and caught the attention of many music lovers around the world. The CMJ New Music Report described the tape as “ This is the best self produced demo tape I have heard all year….the single Dem nor wan dance deserves to be heard on dancefloors, radio stations and boomboxes nationwide…..if you close your eyes you might think this is music from a Mango Records sampler. The fact that he remains unsigned is as amazing as the churning, lilting, heartfelt music that Freddy creates on Free”. About a year later,Cameroonian guitarist Vincent Nguini who played on the album ended up as the guitarist for Paul Simon, and Freddy’s background singer Crystal Waters also went on to secure a #1 spot on Billboards Dance music charts and in Europe with her single “gypsy woman”

How can we describe Freddy Shabaka’s music? The Washington Post gave an apt description of his music as “ effervescent merengue flavored blend of African highlife guitars, horns, and rhythms. Political, Social and Rasta anthems figure in the mix too, along with splashes of Caribbean Calypso and Reggae, but no matter how impassioned the message or how diverse the elements, the music has a sunny allure that’s hard to resist”. The world is now ready for “A Chapter of Roots” the first chapter of “ The Book of Shabaka”.


All songs written, arranged and produced by: Freddy Cole 'Shabaka'
Music for 'Ram it dong’ was done by: Desmond Williams
Music for 'Fire' was done by: Bhai D. Sesay
Engineer James Easterling All songs
Engineer Desmond Williams Ram it dong, Fire
Graphics, Printed, Mastered & Edited by: Alphonso Messam

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