1. How did you come by the
name Jah Pickney?
When I was 12 years old, I wrote a
fan letter to Christafari after hearing their first album,
"Reggae Worship". I wrote to tell them that I was
very happy to find a Christian Reggae band, and I also told them
about the calling God had on my life for a ministry to Jamaicans.
Mark "Tansoback" Mohr (founder and lead vocalist of
Christafari) was very impressed with my letter and was inspired to
write back. In his letter, which was the
beginning of our good friendship, he gave me the name Jah Pickney
means God's child in Jamaican patois) due to my age and God's
in my life.
2. How did you get into
I believe that the rhythm of Reggae
music is a thing that you must be born with! It doesn't seem
very easy for people to adopt it or learn it. It is so
different from the rhythm we are used to in Canada or America.
I know that even before my existence God had a plan for my life,
so when He created me He created me with the a love and natural
ability for the Reggae rhythms. As I look back throughout my life
I realize now that all the songs I ever
loved growing up were either Reggae or had a similar beat, but it
wasn't until 1993 that I realized that this music was called
"Reggae". At this time the popular Inner Circle
song "Sweat (A la la la la long)" was always on the
radio, and I fell in love with it. When I found out that
this song was what they call "Reggae" I started
collecting more and more.
3. How did you get into
Dancehall in particular?
Even before I knew what Reggae was
I loved songs that I heard on the radio like Shabba's "Mr.
Loverman", and Shaggy's "Oh Carolina". As I
collected more Reggae albums I got more and more opened up to the
different styles of Reggae and learned that these songs were also
considered Reggae. I eventually heard the likes of Tony
Rebel, and Tiger, and it literally amazed me as I couldn't
understand one single word they said. As I would listen to
Reggae the dancehall style seemed to pop out more. It was so
different from Canadian music, and I loved it.
4. You play all the
instruments on your first CD "Jah Love". Where did
learn to play?
My ability for music is totally a
God given gift. I have never had lessons, and I don't even
understand why I can do it. Music is very big in my family.
My Dad plays guitar, my Mom plays piano, and my brothers play
drums and guitar. I didn't play anything for a long time.
I didn't seem to have really any musical talents, but as my family
wanted us to all play together I struggled to play the bass guitar
(playing only what my Dad taught me to
do). My first instrument of my own was a harmonica given to
me from my
Grandmother. Soon after I discovered my love for Jamaica and
Reggae I had a desire to play hand drums. When I was about
12 or 13 I got my first hand drum for Christmas. I would
just bang away on that drum, it didn't sound good but I loved it,
so it was sure to get better. As I listened to Reggae I
began to imitate what they would play, and soon I was doing this
on piano, drums, bass and everything else. The more I
listened the better I got. Being a one man band I couldn't play
all the instruments at the same time
so that is when I got a Keyboard Sequencer Workstation.
Since then I have been
programming, and playing instruments into the sequencer so I have
a full back up band at the push of a play button. I first
started by learning other songs by ear and putting them into my
sequencer to get the hang of Reggae composition and soon I was
writing my own.
5. What was your reason to
release "Jah Love" by yourself instead of signing to an
Given my location, I am the only
one around who knows Reggae in and out, so in a way I was forced
to venture into this project on my own. However, I do enjoy
it this way because being on my own gives me the freedom to
produce an album exactly how I want it to sound, and to be the
producer myself. I also felt God had called me right then to
establish this part of my ministry and to focus on my music.
If this album was to be released under a major label I may have
had to wait a few more years before its release, and I felt that
God's timing was then. With my independent label "Jah
Yout Productions" I have found that things are going smoothly
and God is doing big things with my music.
6. How did you end up
going to Jamaica by yourself in 1997?
I was originally supposed to
accompany Mark Mohr on his annual Jamaica for Jesus trip, but due
to Christafari's heavy concert schedule the trip was almost
cancelled. Mark then had the idea that I could fly down by
myself and stay with some missionaries that lived there, and I
could continue Mark's work as he couldn't be there. This was
a little frightening for me because I was only 15 years old and I
was going to a third world country I had never been to and I was
going to stay with people I had never met. But
my faith in God was strong and I went. On this trip I was
involved in Street witnessing, and witnessing to children at two
different orphanages, as well as helping to build a Christian
School, but the main focus of the trip was to minister back stage
at the largest Reggae festival in the world "Reggae
Sumfest". It was my vision that if we won the artists
for Christ they would go on to spread the Gospel to thousands.
7. Did anything of
significance happen on that trip?
Oh yes! When I first arrived
home I was a little disappointed that I hadn't seen anyone accept
Christ on the spot, but my Mother assured me saying that I had
done my part, I had planted the seed and it is up to God to make
them grow. Soon I realized this was true when I received an
e-mail from the missionaries stating that Lt. Stitchie (one of
Jamaica's biggest Reggae artists) had become a Christian through
the Bible that I handed him back stage at Sumfest. Stitchie
has now gone on to sing the Gospel through his dancehall Reggae
and has one many souls for Christ. He is now signed to
Christafari's label Lion of Zion Entertainment. He has also
become a dear friend of mine, and a big help in my ministry.
8. Have You been back to
Not yet, but I can't wait to go
back again. Right now focusing on my music ministry has
taken all my time but hopefully I soon can combine these
ministries, and perform in Jamaica.
9. How did you end up
hosting your own Reggae radio show?
As I was first getting into Reggae
music I was surprised to hear that here in Belleville on a local
College Radio station there was a Reggae program called
"Reggaesplash". I was excited to here this news so
I tuned in every week, and called in for requests all the time.
Soon the DJ got to know me as I was his biggest fan, and we became
friends. After a few years of listening to this program the
DJ told me that he was graduating and was moving back home and
Reggaesplash was going to be cancelled unless he could
find a replacement. As he knew that I knew my Reggae and
that I had a large collection he asked the Station manager if I
could take over Reggaesplash when he was gone. The Station
manager agreed to letting me take over so I was trained and soon
Reggaesplash was back on with its new host Jah Pickney. On this
program I have the freedom to play whatever Reggae music I want,
as I use my own CD collection, and it is a specialty show.
It airs every Saturday night from 7:00 until 8:00 on 92.3 FM CJLX.
10. How have sales of Jah
Sales have been going quite well.
The distribution is still not as widespread as we would like it to
be, but considering the amount of availability it is going very
well. When the album first became available on the Lion of
Zion website store they sold out very quickly and requested more
ASAP. So I am very happy with the way things have been
11. How did you hear of
STAR and how has STAR helped you?
I heard about STAR from Mark Mohr
before it had even started and was just a vision. I signed
up as soon as possible and it has been great. STAR has been
great in helping to promote my music. When the album first
came out STAR was quick to get clips on their site and it was one
of the first albums being sold on the STAR store. It is also
a great source of contacts with others involved in Christian
Reggae or Ska.
12. Any funny or
interesting stories from show/tours you have done?
There are a few things that have
happened. Nothing major. In my performances we include
a light show as well as the use of a fog machine. One time when
still experimenting with the smoke machine it was placed at the
front of the stage facing me and in one of my hard songs the
operator just totally pumped the smoke. It looked cool but
as I sang I started to breath it in until I started choking.
I covered up alright, and just
avoided standing right in front of it, for the rest of the show.
Another time we blew the power on the lights and I had to sing in
the dark for one song until we got the lights on again.
That's pretty much it.
13. Any plans yet for a
Yes. Production of the next
album has already begun. I have been preparing the songs
since the release of Jah Love with no break in between. I
have been busy in the studio as well as busy designing the cover
art, and writing up the album notes.
14. What can we expect
from this album? Any changes in direction or music?
There are definitely some changes
musically. It will include a wider variety of Reggae styles
stepping closer to Roots and Lovers Rock, yet also keeping the
hard dancehall. The soft songs will be softer and the hard
songs will be harder. There will be more tracks on this
album as well as more live instrumentation. This album will
be entitled "From the Heart" and lyrically covers more
personal emotions and experiences.
15. Being a white
dreadlocked man from Canada, do you get any strange
looks walking down the streets?
There are always people staring and
whispering. It is starting to lesson now that most people
have seen my face in the paper or in the local record stores, but
I suppose it will never cease altogether. In fact on my next
album I have some lyrics written about this subject. When I
am in big cities like Toronto, which has a large Jamaican
community it is not that bad, but here in the little
"country" town of Belleville it is a strange sight to
16. Any long term plans?
I just want to continue writing,
recording, performing and producing my reggae music for Christ.
I also want to establish a solid ministry taking trips to Jamaica,
and performing more world wide. I want to worship Christ
with everything I do, and listen to His calling and go where He
tells me to go. Eventually I would like to have a family and
to pass my music and faith down through the generations.
17. What was your reaction
when Stitchie called you from Toronto?
I hadn't seen Stitchie since his
choice to accept Christ, but I had established a friendship with
him over the phone. When he called from Toronto and asked me
to come and share the stage with him to sing and complete the
story of his salvation, I was thrilled at the opportunity to see
him again and to be included in his ministry. I was still in
school at the time but my Mother called the school and said
"Sorry, Tim's not coming
in today". We went directly to Toronto and Stitchie and
I had a wonderful reunion as brothers in Christ.
18. What lead to him
Stitchie was very grateful when he
found out who it was that gave him the bible at Reggae Sumfest.
We built a friendship by phone and we hoped to someday meet again.
He had been sharing his testimony all over the world and in it he
mentioned the white Canadian boy who gave him a bible at Sumfest
'97. He sees me as an important part of his new life in
Christ. When he was going to be in Toronto, sharing his testimony,
he couldn't pass up the opportunity to meet me again and introduce
me to his audience.
19. What artists/bands are
In my music you can clearly hear
influences from such artists as Degree (General Degree), Tony
Rebel and even some Christafari. In my newer songs my
influences are Degree, Stitchie, Everton Blender, Tony Rebel, Buju
Banton, Christafari, and Bob Marley. My all time favorite artists
are, Degree, Tony Rebel, Buju Banton, Bob Marley, Prodigal Son,
Burning Spear, Christafari, Beres Hammond, Glen Washington and
many many more.
20. Any advice for people
starting out in the music industry?
Music is fun. Enjoy it, and
never give it up. Be strong, it can be rough. Have faith in
God, and always give Him the glory.
21. Do you have any
opinions of the current state of the CCM industry?
Christian music is getting better
and better. It is becoming more authentic and productions
are even starting to surpass secular music. I remember when
all Christian music sounded the same, but now you can get
Christian music in any genre you want that is equal to or better
than the secular scene in quality and production. This is
especially true in the Christian Reggae scene. A few years
ago there was no such thing and now there are lots of Christian
Reggae artists recording very authentic and excellent music.