Praise for Get Up and Try from Roger Steffens*:
“It’s a lovely package filled with rootical sounds, just the way I like ’em.”
A veteran of the worldwide reggae music scene, Jamaican-born reggae artist Shayar now spends much of the year in Beckley, West Virginia. Because he has been a regular citizen of the Mountain State since the 1990s, he has become the authentic resident reggae artist here in West Virginia.
Lenval “Shayar” Jarrett was born in the town of Ocho Rios on the home island of reggae music, Jamaica. His father was a musician and a lover of all kinds of music, and it was the guitar Shayar finally chose as his main instrument of choice. Shayar would go on to play the six-string for two decades in the band of one of the more well-known reggae artists in the world, Burning Spear.
Burning Spear was making music during the time when Rock Steady morphed into modern reggae music. His 1970s albums on the Island label propelled him to stardom and two Grammy Awards. Because Burning Spear is known for putting together bands that play well in a live setting, he has released multiple concert albums while touring the globe over and over again.
Shayar was a big part of those recordings and has seen many parts of the planet while touring with Burning Spear. Then, in the 1980s, Shayar formed his own band called Crucial Force and began to live in Brooklyn, New York.
In the 1990s he found his way to the mountains of Beckley, West Virginia, where he would live on and off, also living in Europe and Jamaica.
Shayar continues to spend many months out of the year here in the Mountain State. These days, he writes most of his own music and will bring his original songs and grooves to Huntington this weekend.
“My songs come to me in different ways,” Shayar said. “It may be words first or the music first. I am always writing and composing. It is not always about technique but about keeping it happening as I write in many different ways. I also have many international travels which help my writing, too, keeping it in a broad scope due to my international experiences.
“When I was with Burning Spear, it was one of the heights of my career. I spent a lot of time with him, and it was a good experience from start to finish. I learned a lot, saw a lot and traveled a lot. These days, I like to write life songs about the ways and means of life.”
Shayar plays the mandolin on occasion, but the guitar is what he plays the best. His influences are wider than just reggae music.
“When it comes to guitar heroes, I listen to a lot of Ernest Ranglin (Jamaican guitar legend who was influential in the early days of ska and reggae),” Shayar said. “But the jazz guitarists are who I paid attention to a lot more in the early days. I have learned a lot from jazz. Wes Montgomery is one of my favorite guitarists as are George Benson, Joe Pass, Earl Klugh and a lot of those guys. That is what I grew up on. My dad played Jamaican-style pop music, standards and jazz. And he would play some Skatalites-type of stuff, which is a jazzy type of ska.”
Shayar enjoys his time in the West Virginia mountains, which are similar in some ways to the mountains of Jamaica.
“I like to do the outdoors stuff,” Shayar said. “I like to be outdoors. I can handle the snow because a part of the time I live in Norway and sometimes in Canada, going back and forth for the past seven or eight years. But I have more control over my career here as I have my businesses here and all of my friends are here, so it is more comfortable to be here. … And, my Mom thinks it is closer to Jamaica here as well. She always says, ‘You’re too far away.’ I go back to Jamaica two times a year at least. Anytime in Jamaica is a good time to be in Jamaica as my family is there and it is consistently the same. But I also like it here very much.”
Shayar performs twice this weekend in Huntington, at 6 p.m. Friday, April 28, at the V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington, as part of the 20th annual Treehugger’s Ball, and Saturday, April 29, at Heritage Station during the People’s Climate March, beginning at 11 a.m.
Seeing Bob Marley’s band, The Wailers, a couple months back really got me jonesing for some live reggae music pumped out of the Mountain State.
I sure miss those Harry Hopkins (Harry O) produced Dream Fests, the reggae concerts that he put on a few years back down on the river right here in Huntington, which believe it or not produced a ground-breaking reggae artist. Archie Himons, the nearly 7-foot-tall singer known here as Little Archie sang R&B but he morphed musically and spiritually into Aashid Himons the leader of the Nashville-based reggae group Afrikan Dreamland, which was the first U.S. reggae act to have a video on MTV in the early 1980s.
While Himons has passed away, carrying on that sweet Mountain State swayed Rasta spirit is Jamaican native Lenval “Shayar” Jarrett, who has for several years bounced back and forth between living in Europe and West Virginia where he has lived since the late 1990s.
Shayar, who spent years touring the world with Burning Spear, is headlining One Love, an Appalachian Reggae Festival, from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 23 in Brooks, W.Va. (located between Hinton and Sandstone along the New River.
Gates open at noon. There is an open mic from 3 to 5 p.m., and the show starts at 5 p.m. Enjoy a day of reggae music with such authentic reggae acts as Shayar and his band Krooshal Force as well as The White Abbot, The Kind Thieves, DJ Freeman, and emcee Elvis Sterling.
Go online at www.oneloveappalachia.com to find out more about the festival which is $15 in advance, $20 at the door and free for children 12 and under who are accompanied by an adult.
BECKLEY– Visitors that stopped by Tamarack were greeted with some reggae tunes today.
Reggae artist Shyar and Krooshal Force stopped by Tamarack to play some of their own music as well as hits from other reggae stars like Bob Marley. The band played for a crowd in the Governor Hulett C. Smith Theater during Tamarack’s Sunday @ Two event. The event features free live performances from different guests every week. Shyar lives in West Virginia and says he plays at Tamarack often. He says it’s always good to meet travelers visiting the area who enjoy reggae music.
“A lot of people pass by here coming from a state that has more reggae than West Virginia. So they’re also surprised, like ‘wow,you have reggae here.’ So they’ll stop. It’s good. A lot of surprises here from a tourist point of view. People just driving through.”
Catch Shayar and Krooshal Force on stage again July 23rd at the One Love Appalachia Roots, Rock and Reggae event in Brooks WV.
Speaking of reuniting, one adopted West Virginia native son, the Beckley-based reggae artist, Shayar, is back home in the mountains after a full year in Europe. Shayar spent the fall of 2012 and almost all of 2013 in Europe where he collaborated with Børge Johansen in forming the group OnJaa.
The band released an EP, “Righteous Path,” and played the Horten Roots and Reggae Festival and venues in Oslo, Norway. He performed as a cast member in the play “The Legends” and, during the summer of 2013, toured with Admiral P and Nico D.
When he wasn’t touring or gigging, Shayar worked on his original material in the studios of Henrik Berhane of Berhane Productions, playing guitar, bass, drums and mandolin on tracks that will become his next release.
“Although I was in Europe to work on my music, West Virginia was never far from my heart. I am really glad to be home,” said Shayar, who was born in Jamaica but who has lived in Beckley since 1997. Read the entire article here.
Celebrate music, love and Appalachia at the first annual One Love Appalachia reggae festival Saturday in Brooks. This festival is a seed that will grow into an annual event for years to come, says musician and event coordinator Shayar… “The words ‘One Love’ are so much deeper than they seem. It is about oneness, everyone being one, love for our people, and promoting a certain kind of cultural attitude,” he said. Read the entire article here.
WSAZ: Tree Huggers Have A Ball
He may be from Jamaica, but Lenval “Shayar” Jarrett is truly Mountain made.
The multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who moved to Beckley back in 1997, shows off that Mountaineer spirit on his latest CD of 10 originals, “Get Up and Try,” on which he plays everything but a Turnpike toll booth.
For the record, Shayar, who toured internationally with Burning Spear for many years, grooves on everything from percussion and keyboards to guitar, harmonica and mandolin, making an excellent new batch of homegrown Mountain State reggae.
Cut with Beckley-based Dan Bailey and with Beckley’s own Lady D singing backup, Shayar’s new CD, like most other regionally-made CDs, is available locally at Now Hear This. Go online at www.rasshayar.com to see his latest video, “Trust in You,” which has a great slideshow of photos with Shayar in the New River Gorge.
From Jamaica to New York to Beckley, WV: Shayar Releases Latest CD
Jamaican-born singer-songwriter Shayar leads the reggae band Krooshal Force. Shayar’s band Ozone played the Ocho Rios, Jamaica hotel circuit in the 1980s. Shayar toured the Caribbean with Gregory Isaacs. As a rhythm guitarist, he toured the U.S. and Europe with Burning Spear and Anthony B. He’s toured the US with the Itals. His original compositions drive Krooshal Force, which he founded in the 80s and which has toured the U.S. and Italy.
Shayar settled in New York City in 1984. In 1997, he moved to West Virginia, where the mountains remind him of home. It was in the Mountain State that Shayar first took up a mandolin. West Virginia mountain music has influenced his latest studio album, Get Up and Try, released in October 2009. On the new CD, Shayar sings his original songs and plays mandolin, guitar, keyboards and harmonica.
Shayar’s adopted hometown of Beckley is well represented in Get Up and Try. Well known Beckley diva Lady D sings backup vocals. The CD is engineered and mastered by Beckley-based Dan Bailey, who plays guitar and bass on the track “Living Loving.”
Get Up and Try is Shayar’s fifth CD.