Press Clipping
Jah9 at Howard Theatre: Thursday, Feb. 5

Young Jamaican singer, poet, and community organizer Jah9 quickly developed a following among roots reggae fans with her 2013 debut album, New Name. The title track’s spiritual references to King Rastafari and the Lion of Judah, along with the island’s traditional loping rhythm, is standard for the genre. But this Baptist minister’s daughter gives listeners much more: her melodic voice, varied cadence, and distinctive instrumental touches provided by producers like the acclaimed Rory “Stone Love” Gilligan. The soulful “Mr. Right” offers a subtle flavoring of flute, while “Preacher Man” endears with its jazzy piano, Baptist church organ, and echoed dub bass. It all helps Jah9, born Janine Cunningham, transcend the platitudinous phrasing she sometimes pens. Thanks to a sweet yet strong delivery she developed with Jamaican crooning legend Beres Hammond, lyrics like “your only limitation is your imagination” and “tap into the potential of your mind,” sound convincing, not cheesy, welcoming the audience into her world.