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60 Second Interview… Otis Kirton

INSPIRED: Salute To The Wailers’ musical director Otis Kirton

Musical director of Salute To The Wailers Otis Kirton speaks to Osworld’s People & Places about his love of reggae and why all reggae lovers should not miss his show which includes tributes to Bob Marley sung by stars such as Mica Paris, Lloyd Brown, and original Wailers guitarist Junior Marvin.

What inspired the show Salute To The Wailers?
The inspiration came from a desire to celebrate one of the greatest sets of musicians in rock and roll history - Bob Marley and The Wailers.

What makes Bob Marley’s work so unique?
Lyrically the songs were and still are relevant to core issues that relate to everybody on planet Earth. In terms of the music, very few tracks that are approaching 40 years old can sound as fresh, contemporary and relevant as the music of the Wailers.

Where do you see the future of reggae music?
Some people don’t admit it but everybody loves good reggae! Reggae continues to influence so many other forms of music and culture so it will never die.

What can people expect on the night at Salute To The Wailers?
A whole evening of music celebrating Bob Marley and the Wailers, delivered with the highest musical integrity combined with the flair of the theatre. A great night for reggae lovers, with a full band and brass section, not forgetting our orchestra. Nobody takes The Wailers as seriously as us.

What is your all time favourite Bob Marley song?
Africa Unite. Bob is trying to explain to people about the power, beauty and potential of a united Africa. The fact that many people still don’t see this is what makes the song so stirring and poignant. The song is full of hope yet frustration.

Do you think any other reggae singer deserves the title King of Reggae?
There are and have been many Kings of Reggae! Anyone who uses the music to uplift, unite, teach and do positive works is a King of Reggae.

What makes reggae music so special?
All music has the capacity to be positive and conscious but no other music can make you feel, dance or move like reggae can. Its tempo and bass frequencies are special and it has direct connections to the listener’s heartbeat and soul.

Why are you proud to be Jamaican?
My father is Jamaican, my mother is Guyanese and I was born in England. I’m proud of who I am. However, I see myself as an African.

Who are your greatest Jamaican heroes?
Cudjoe and Nanny. I have a natural affinity towards rebels and freedom fighters and in a time where free people continue to display a slave mentality Cudjoe and Nanny are sources of inspiration.

If you could change three things in the world through the power of music what would you change?
I’d use music to end war, end famine and make the politicians and leaders of every country truly accountable to the people.

Salute To The Wailers is at the Hackney Empire, September 10 and 11. For further details please contact 0208 985 2424 or visit

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