You are here

Nomaddz Gets Dubwise at UWI

Nomaddz at the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre, UWI

In the third in a series of Reggae Talks staged by the Department of Literatures in English, UWI, Mona, Nomaddz took over the lectern at the Neville Hall Lecture Theatre. Their lecture, dubbed ‘No-Maddz on the Trod’ was delivered in their inimitable dramatic style as they spoke about their individual and group journey from high school through to today.

After a quick introduction by series coordinator Professor Carolyn Cooper, and greetings by department head, Dr. Michael Bucknor, the group was introduced by Rastafari scholar Dr. Jahlani Niaah. Dr. Niaah pointed out that, the group, whose roots lie in dub poetry are an important part of the resurrection of live reggae music, currently being experienced in Jamaica.  

Dr. Jahlani Niaah delivers the introduction"They are not just musicians, they come and champion higher standards of entertainment," Niaah said, lauding the group for having stayed together for over a decade.  "When we're talking about Nomaddz we're really talking about the top of the game." The lecture hall which filled to capacity and beyond showed their agreement.

Nomaddz took to the stage to thunderous applause and screams. They began with talk of their coming together in high school.

"We had dual citizenship at KC [Kingston College] and Merl Grove," said Sheldon Shepherd, the first to speak. And though technically they took turns talking, as each delivered a tale, the others would chime in either by dramatizing the event or with some other anecdotal morsel, revealing numerous anecdotes including being dubbed with the name by former member Shane Fitzgerald, or the requirement for membership being a gold winning dub performer (in the National Performing Arts Festival). To that end, although Oniel Peart had already amassed several gold medals for “dialect poetry”, he had to cut his chops in dub poetry before he was let in.

Nomaddz insists that unity is one of their defining factors. "It was our getting together from our canteen days to now we have a format," Shepherd said explaining their growth. These “canteen days” included escapades such as sneaking out of school to go to Merl Grove for rehearsals, which resulted in at least one near concussion.
Prof Carolyn Cooper, Dr. Michael Bucknor and Nomaddz
"Nomaddz in my eyes is not really four person,” Chris ‘Birdie’ Gordon said. “I mean if you ask fi Tessanne, you can't ask fi Tessanne foot dem alone fi show up.” As the group spoke they revealed how over the years each had explored a different path but have kept working together.

For Gordon, his greatest deviation came when he decided to take up a full scholarship to attend college in Huntington, Indiana which brought a very different perspective. He noted that outside of his country he was able to understand what he could do for his country. A part of what he therefore did was rather than play the gospel alternative he was given while working on the school’s radio station, he filled the airwaves with reggae instead.

Peart explained that he started his own trod in acting at age 8, long before he had made it to Kingston College. By age thirteen he had appeared in his first film. However, after high school he was encouraged to seek other professional avenues.

"Di drama cyaa feed you y’nuh,” he said he was told. “After the drama a feed mi fi years,” he said with a laugh. “Cause a the drama pay cxc fees.” Nonetheless he acceded to the pressure and tChris Gordon and Sheldon Shepherd of Nomaddzook a job with Avena Powell teaching music at a primary school. Of course, until that summer, he had no musical training. So in preparation for the job, Peart taught himself to play the keyboard and guitars. His further exploration into different instruments continues through today.

Indeed, although he now his crooning is an important part of the Nomaddz performance style, he came to singing late. His interest in the form though led him to be a contestant on Rising Stars, much to the chagrin of the other members, who learned of his entry when they saw him on television. Peart pointed out however, that for him it was a great learning experience which he used to improve his craft.

When it was Everaldo Creary’s turn he too started with his childhood.

"It was like on a domestic warfare," he said, speaking of his home in Franklyn Town, which was not only intensely Christian but also filled with friction between his parents. His father was a preacher and their yard was actually also home to the church. Peart quickly chimed in that Creary is actually a Deacon in the church. It was also through the church that he was introduced to drumming.

According to Creary, individuality was hard to come by in his early years as he and his brothers were all dressed alike. “Anything we didn’t have, it was because it didn’t come in threes,” he said with a laugh. Oniel Peart (l) and Everaldo Creary (r) of Nomaddz

"At the time in Franklyn town, Mommy used to say you can't really stay pon di road, so it was was home, shop, church," he said. KC was within walking distance, and having also attended Primary School in the neighbourhood. He even pointed out that a part of the lure of going to rehearsals at Merl Grove was getting a chance to take the bus.  

Creary, is the sportsman of the group having played cricket through high school and even throughout his short stint at the University of Technology. He and Peart had also tried to get into the famed KC choir but neither had been accepted. His affair with cricket ended after a ball got a little too friendly with his lip during a match. He explained, however that it was actually watching another player being knocked out during the same match that caused the breakup.

Nomaddz at the UWI, Neville Hall Lecture TheatureWhen the Q&A segment opened they were asked about the Puma deal, their view on religion and more. By then, the house was straining at the bit for the long awaited performance. Nomaddz ended the evening with a short performance, culminating with their signature piece ‘Rise Above Profanity’.