Lucid Culture

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Sixteen Questions for Sonia Rodney, Wife and Manager of Reggae Legend Burning Spear

Sonia Rodney is the unperturbable, well-liked wife and manager of legendary reggae artist Winston Rodney, aka Burning Spear, who has a great new album, Jah Is Real, just out on his new record label Burning Music. With a US tour currently in the works, Sonia Rodney somehow managed to find the time to provide some eye-opening answers about her role as a woman in the music business: 

 

Lucid Culture: How did you meet your husband, and did you ever think that you would ever be involved with managing the band?

 

Sonia Rodney: I met Spear at a concert in 1975 he did in Queens. My sister was the one that knew about Burning Spear; I was 15 years old and a single mother. We became very good friends. Spear was very shy and was not looking attention from anyone

 

LC: Prior to working with Burning Spear, did you have a background in the music business?

 

SR: No. I had no background in the music business.

 

LC: Are you a musician yourself?

 

SR: NO.

 

LC: What is your current role in Burning Spear’s music?

 

SR: I handle all the matters from booking shows, to the online store, to motivating the fans that are our family.

 

LC: Is it stressful working with your husband?

 

SR: NO.

 

LC: I don’t mean stressful working with Burning Spear, I mean does it affect your relationship? 

 

SR: No, Spear and I were always very good friend before we got married. Spear waited for me to be of legal age so he could marry me. So yes we had ups and down in our relationship but the friendship always remain to keep us together.

 

LC: Burning Spear is a beloved, iconic figure with a worldwide following. To what extent has this opened doors for you?

 

SR: No doors were open for me as it was never about me. I want to used the talent that the Creator gave me to communicate with people to open doors for Spear.

 

LC: What special challenges does working with him present? 

 

SR: Even through everyone always say they respect Spear they always try to do this, that, not right in the business way. They cannot accept his right to sell his music and be free musically, I have to be determined and strong, and I don’t settle, and many are not used to this coming from the camp of reggae artists. They are always trying to confuse “our,” “mine,” and put words in our mouth. If we ask them for documentation the people in the music business will not reply to us. I never give up. I have paid many prices for the freedom of Burning Spear musically. Just like Rosa Parks I refuse to sit in the back of the bus when I know I have a right to sit in the front of the bus. They even tried to get me arrested after they sell our records that we paid for, and decided not to pay us.

 

LC: A woman in the business world is always faced with challenges. Do you think being a woman has helped you or hindered you, and if so, how?

 

SR: Both. Being a woman with a Jamaican accent and a strong determination many like. It’s a old boys’ club so at times many become upset that they can no longer make money from Burning Spear music, and they blame me. I say they don’t have to like me but I know they will have to say in the end she did what was best for Spear. I work my business with honesty and integrity.

 

LC: How do you respond in the case where you’re dealing with a guy who refuses to take you seriously?

 

SR: They always become my friend in the end, I never take no for an answer, and they like that.

 

LC: It seems to me that just about every type of music – rock, rap, reggae, whatever – is dominated by men, so there’s always a lot of sexist behavior going on. Your husband has gone on record as being against overly sexist lyrics in reggae. Do you believe that this has had an impact on his audience, and if so, how? 

 

SR: I see Spear as a messenger of the Creator just like Marcus Garvey and Mr. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. The venue is the church for Spear to bring people together, since times have now changed. The lyrics in Spear songs just come to him. It’s not about being a star, it’s a job that he was elected to do, this is the reason why he will never compromise.

 

LC: To what degree has race, or your West Indian heritage, played a factor?

 

SR: Race plays no part, my West Indian heritage plays many part in me. I am every woman that travels this earth and have passed on the fight for the rights of freedom, to protect her family.

 

LC: As you travel around the world, as a woman in the music business, where do you feel the most comfortable?

 

SR: In Kenya

 

LC: Is there a special, single achievement in music for you that you’re most proud of?

 

SR: Yes, making Burning Spear a free man and standing up for his rights no matter what the price.

 

LC: I know that what you do can be incredibly difficult and stressful, for example, I just got a message over myspace from the Itals who had a horrible experience at a club in Portland. What’s the worst experience you’ve had in the music business, and are you willing to talk about it? 

 

SR: My worst experience was with the last distribution label that I trusted, and worked so hard, and when the agreement was over she tried to destroy me both mental- and business- wise, by filing false charges against me for harassment, by me calling for information I was entitled to, that could only come from her. When I find out about what she had done, I call the police station myself and went there. She never told them the truth about what happened, and they hold me for a few hours to check me out and come to me and say they were sorry and would not file any charges against me, this was her way to scare me away from not getting the information I requested and to not pay me. Yet she is running around saying she got me arrested, to this day she refuses to face us in court. I never have problem with clubs’ owners: I only work with people I know and trust, and I always work with the same people.

 

LC: A lot of people are saying that Jah Is Real is Burning Spear’s best studio album in a long time. Do you agree?

 

SR: Yes I do, we call it our baby, this album took on a life of its own.

 

LC: Do you have a favorite Burning Spear song or album?

 

SR: Jah Is Real.

 

LC: Is there any advice you’d like to give to girls who are interested in pursuing a career in the music business? 

 

SR: Go for it, just keep it clean, you don’t need to show your ass to sell records. Jah is Real.

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September 13, 2008 - Posted by | Music

36 Comments »

  1. Mummsie your interview is awesome and so true to yourself and what you guys represent we love you

    Comment by Demetra Vick | May 12, 2012 | Reply

  2. just read the article was impress.you sound like the kind of person I would like to work with I would like to send some copies of my artist work ,then see if we can do something togather(please note I have got my own label silverdome records) website silverdome.co.uk ,I have to tell you I have had a stroke and is layed for awhile

    Comment by fitzgerald watson | May 23, 2012 | Reply

  3. this true jah is real mama by ras chapari

    Comment by ras chapari | June 26, 2012 | Reply

  4. i dont know jah is real yet,but my all time favourite album is RASTA BUSSINESS,my favorite song is NOT STUPID, hey hey hey hey hey hey.

    Comment by thammy | August 24, 2012 | Reply

  5. Winston Rodney has been my reggae artist,have always cherished him.I would have liked to listen to his latest albums,would like to thank Sonia for standing by him.Jah bless ,one love.

    Comment by Wilfred T. Nyahanana | December 3, 2012 | Reply

  6. I like it when she says, she feels so comfortable while in Kenya. my home

    Comment by Barack Luchetu | May 8, 2013 | Reply

  7. For Burning Spear to have a wife like Sonia, i think is God giving, i think both of them are heaven sent instuments.

    Comment by Solomon Aitenoria | July 12, 2013 | Reply

  8. Dear Sonia, stay blessed with your husband, and do not mind the negetivity of this world, cus Jah is with you people.

    Comment by Solomon Aitenoria | July 24, 2013 | Reply

  9. Dear Sonia, stay blessed with your husband, and do not mind the negetivity of this world, cus Jah is real with you people. Besides, when will you guys visit Nigeria for concert? we love to see you!

    Comment by Solomon Aitenoria | July 24, 2013 | Reply

  10. I think calling rastafari is the best album compare to jah is real, just listen to lets move and own security

    Comment by Solver maluleke | October 1, 2013 | Reply

  11. Jah is Real…But the greatest song of all time that l love from Burning Spear is JAH NAH DEAD!!
    WANNA SEH NUFF RESPECT TO YOU SONIA fo the pivotal role you play.Jah is my Driver..the water the cools off the engine,the Radiator and the wheel……!u ROCKED SOUTH AFRICA IN 2000!

    Comment by RAS TIM CAPE TOWN | October 24, 2013 | Reply

  12. JAH is REAL…..!The other greatest hits that really touchs my heart are from Old school albums,social living,Hail HIM,estimated Prophet, Message , Door peep,African Teacher and ofcourse Mek we dweet….!Big up everytime to Burning Music Productions.l Personally thank you for your togetherness and Oneness! To JAH be the glory….! jah work must be done coz ‘mi gi dem’ the music in their time of trouble and dey can’t change my “Identity’….!PEACE………!!!

    Comment by RAS TIMOTHY BANDA,MILNERTON,CAPE TOWN | October 24, 2013 | Reply

  13. Hi Sonia
    I am really happy to hear u speaking of your husband Mr Rodney, is becouse of the the support you have shown to your husband and his band i really appriciate that becouse i realised that if it was not you may be the band could’t go that far and i want you to know that Reagae music was my father from the time when i was at shool and even though my culture is pedi i feel more of a rasta family becouse you where there for me while i was alone in the dersert, and even to this day i do feel the spear burning in my bone.

    Comment by Nteseng Paul Gwangwa | November 7, 2013 | Reply

  14. im a proud to be a kenyan! Today we are celebrating 50 years of indipendence i love all burning spear albums

    Comment by gitau | December 11, 2013 | Reply

  15. am very happy to know the truth, that spear has a wife.

    Comment by sam kiruga | January 8, 2014 | Reply

  16. I’m happ here dat Mr Rodney have wife who is so supportive to her
    Husband,keep up de good job.so hopefully in some
    Other future we can be together like we hv never
    Bin togethet before

    Comment by sam maluleke | April 20, 2014 | Reply

  17. Gud work mrs Rodney as Malcolm x once said ” sometimes you got to pick up the gun to put down the gun” so you got to protect the spears legacy by any means neccessary. Jah is real from Thulani in South Africa

    Comment by Thulani | November 19, 2014 | Reply

  18. 700 strong. Keep the spear Burning

    Comment by Higher Iya Mass | January 23, 2015 | Reply

  19. yes..i luv BURNING SPEAR and his wife..my best music in live is BURNING SPEAR AND CULTURE….TANKS TO U ALL……
    .ALEX FROM NIGERIA

    Comment by ALEX | March 13, 2015 | Reply

  20. Behind every great man, there you will find a great woman. Jah is real…

    Comment by beluchii | May 4, 2015 | Reply

  21. am Martin from Kenya your jast a wonderful mmama africa you So soo welcamed yo kenya

    Comment by yah marto | May 31, 2015 | Reply

  22. My favorite Burning Spear songs have to be 3 Burning Reggae , 2 Cry Blood Africans & 1 Hail him

    Comment by VUSUMUZI SIBANDA Johannesburg , South Africa | August 6, 2015 | Reply

  23. keep da spear burning, Ralph from south africa

    Comment by ralph | August 24, 2015 | Reply

  24. BURNING SPEAR let(jah guide,jah bless,jah protect)you

    Comment by Kgatla winston rodney | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  25. Hi, my name is KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY am 18 yrs old i live in SOUTH AFRICA. I really love reggae music because my father gave me name of reggae legend “BURNING SPEAR” i am appreciate that am happy of my father cos he gave me name of reggae legend.the songs that i love from BURNING SPEAR are TAKE A LOOK,AFRICAN TEACHER,OLD MARCUS GARVEY,JAH NO DEAD,I STAND STRONG,THE WILDERNESS,BLACK DISCIPLES,WE ARE GOING,DOOR PEEP,CHRISTOPHER COLOMBUS,CRY BLOOD AFRICA,MAN IN THE HILLS,SUBJECT IN SCHOOL,THE SUN,LION etc..The albums that i love from burning spear are MEK EW DWEET,BEST OF THE FITTEST,RASTA BUSINESS, RARE AND UNRAELISED,THE WORLD SHOULD,MARCUS GARVEY GARVEY’sGHOST etc..keep the spear burning…PERSONALLY THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT, YOUR TOGETHERNESS AND ONENESS..!TO JAH BE THE GLORY…JAH WORK MUST BE DONE COS”mi gi dem”THE MUSIC IN THIER TIME OF TROUBLE AND DEY CAN’T CHANGE IDENTITY OF BURNING SPEAR……….PEACE….!!! JAH GUIDE,JAH BLESS,JAH PROTECT..RED,GOLD AND GREEN….HATE HIM OR LOVE HIM HE WILL KEEP ON BURNING REGGAE…JAH KNOW THE ALL.

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  26. How long, shall they kill our Reggae prophets while we stand aside and look?THEY TRIED TO FOOL BLACK POPULATION BY TELLING THEM JAH DEAD.U AND I KNOW THAT JAH NO DEAD….JAH NEVER DIE.

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  27. BURNING SPEAR_AFRICAN TEACHER Teach me,teach me,teach me,teach me,teacher Teach I and I Amharic teacher Teach me,teach me,teach me,teach me,teacher I never be late,I always early.I never absent,I always present That’ why I and I nah sit down inna no back bench Natty like to be bright,bright,bright So bright,bright,bright So bright African teaching is a part of I and I culture o yes part of I and I Teach me,teach me,teach me,teach me,teacher Teach I and I Amharic teacher I admit we go to school But we never finish No until we reach upon the soil of Africa,where I and I can be taught by African teacher Teach me,teach me,teach me teach me,teacher.Teach I and I Amharic teacher.Teach me,teach me,teach me,teach me,teacher.Teach I and I Amharic teacher O right teach I and I Amharic .I like to be taught by African,African teacher So right, natty like to be bright so bright So bright so bright brightet bright Bright natty bright natty bright natty bright So bright natty like to be taught by African teacher Is a part of I and I Teach,Amharic teacher,African teacher Teach I and I and I Amharic teacher Teach I and I and I natty like to be bright so bright I and I SONG WRITER:BURNING SPEAR WINSTON RODNEY

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY , south africa,limpopo | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  28. REST IN PEACE OUR GREAT MEN: MARCUS MOSIAH GARVEY NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA MALCOLM X MARTIN LUTHER KINGjr PAUL BOGEL ………..Jah bless our Great Men to REST IN PEACE……….IN THE NAME OF JAH JAH.

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY,SOUTH AFRICA, LIMPOPO | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  29. …..BURNING SPEAR has music inside him.When he walk away from music,he walk away from himself…….KEEP ON SPEAR BURNING……..

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY SOUTH AFRICA,LIMPOPO,TZANEEN | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  30. Marcus Garvey :We declare to the world Africa must be free,must be free

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY,SOUTH AFRICA,TZANEEN, | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  31. Out of all Reggae Artists.I think my favourate legend of Reggae is BURNING SPEAR….GLORY BE TO JAH,IT’S NOT SECREAT TO REASON WITH JAH.KEEP ON BURNING

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY S-AFFRICA | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  32. I and I all I know.I and I all i say.I and I reconsider.I and I see upfully that.Christopher Colombus is a damn blasted liar.He’s say that he is the first one who discover jamaica……………….GO TO HELL CHRISTOPHER COLOMBUS.

    Comment by KGATLA WINSTON RODNEY S-AFRICA | November 16, 2015 | Reply

  33. I man have been de Burning Fan of de Greatest Legend of Reggae Music in History in the Entire World: BURNING SPEAR from 2001..

    Ever sins, each and every morning, I Man listen to BURNING SPEAR’s
    Track:

    WHEN JAH CALLING (Jah Kingdom Ulbum)

    Check it Out…!!

    It makes I man feel Blessed!!
    Its Very Inspirational, n it Heals all the Sad Wounds in my Heart n Mind..

    I Man Think this Track is Winston’s Master Peace!!!

    I n I mean all those Instruments are Full of Jah Spirit!!

    I n I WISH to see Winston Rodney Performing this Track, even in Studio!! I Man wan to see Him Chanting this Track..

    He was Full of Jah Holly Spirit when Recording that Hit…!! Even His Voice, Its Very Touching…!! It hits Deep inside I Man’s Heart..

    During His visit of 2000 in South Africa, I man was 17 years by then.. n now I Man is 33years!! Still listening to all the Burning Tracks of Burning Spear!!

    All His Ulbums are Great, all His Tracks are well Mastered!!

    He is Spreading Jah Message n Preaching Through Music..

    Check Him Live in New Haven 1988 (Track: Slavery Days)

    When He Said:

    “East Must be Free, West Must be Free, North Must be Free, SOUTH AFRICA MUST BE FREE…!! Must be Free!! Yesss.. Must…!!! Free Nelson Mandela(x3), Don’t Worry Mrs Mandela.. Don’t Worry Mrs Mandela.. Mrs(x4).. Mrs Mandela Don’t Worry…..Noh Don’t Worry(x4)… Don’t Worry……….”

    That show was in 1988… I n I was Only 5years by then..

    But Because BURNING SPEAR is Jah Messenger, He was Spreading the Message all the way from Jamaica to my Fellow South Africans and all over the World..
    Encouraging us, n sending the Message to Winnie Mandela!!

    He has always been caring for Africa and the Rest of the World!!

    And WOW!!

    Mrs SONIA RODNEY…..

    You Will Forever be Mama Africa..

    From 1975 to Date… and Still Standing Strong with Burning Spear… You are a True Role Model to all the women all over the World..!! You are a Strong Inspiring Woman.. Jah Will always be with you.. You are doing a Great Job in Burning Music..

    I man Feel Blessed

    I n I will Keep The Spear Burning.. in South Africa, Northwest Province, Mafikeng..

    Jah Bless…!!!

    Comment by karabo Makgetha South Africa, Maftown.. (Mahikeng) | November 18, 2015 | Reply

  34. I like de songs of burning spear so much am OMONDI EDWINE from kenya

    Comment by Omondi Edwine | January 4, 2016 | Reply

  35. Mrs Sonia Rodney…..I jus’ love your answer to the last question of your interview. Let H.I.M bless His daughters in music business for indeed “Jah Is Real”

    Comment by Stanley Stamiri | November 24, 2016 | Reply

  36. May Jah Bless Winston N Sonia fi di goodvibes.

    Comment by Lewis Delight Kibe | June 22, 2017 | Reply


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