Jamaica Gleaner / Singer Samory I, had a choice in doing what became the penultimate track on his debut album Black Gold , released in 2017. Producer Rorystonelove did not present him with a choice of songs, but two versions of the same song, Is It Because I’m Black. The original is by Syl Johnson, and Ken Boothe did a reggae cover.
In his treatment of the song, Samory I told The Gleaner that he went for the style of the original as “it just move me”.
That feeling is transmitted clearly in Samory I’s delivery of a song originally released in 1969. The video, directed by Fernando F Hevia, was uploaded to YouTube on February 1, the beginning of Black History and Reggae Month. In Is It Because I’m Black , Syl Johnson writes:
“The dark brown shades of my skin
Only add colour to my tears
That splash against my hollow bones
That rocks my soul
Looking back over my false dreams,
That I once knew
Wondering why my dreams never came true
Is it because I’m black?
Somebody tell me, what can I do
Something is holding me back
Is it because I’m black?”
In March, Samory I will be taking his music on the road with a 15-city tour of Europe starting in March.
He went through that continent two years ago, performing a number of dates with the Naja Vibes Band, who his manager, Bridgett Anderson, says was excellent.
This time around, Samory I will be travelling with the Blackheart Band from Jamaica, an outfit Anderson says is “the band we hope to grow with”.
“It is a great development and a move in the right direction,” Anderson said about Samory I touring with his own band. The tour has resulted from a connection with Luis Ribero of Jah Live booking agency in Portugal. “I had reached out to him. Initially, he was very busy. In later days, he got back to us and said he had been getting some responses to Samory’s music,” Anderson said. The result is the 15-city indoor venue tour. She said that there is strong interest in Samory I elsewhere as there have been queries from the USA, England, and parts of Africa and New Zealand, asking when he is going to do shows there.