Album Review: “A Miracle” by Groundation

A Miracle Groundation

In the opening lines of “Riddim Hold Dem,” the first track of Groundation‘s 11th studio album A Miracle, frontman Harrison Stafford sings:

“Without woman, what would man be?”

This question marks the beginning of an album centered around exploring and cherishing the role of women in life. Something I always loved about Groundation, a jazzy roots reggae band hailing from Northern California, is their inclusion of female vocalists in their recorded and live productions. Over the years, vocalists Kim Pommell and Sherida Sharpe have emerged as powerful forces in the band, and they play a strong part in this album. “They’re not backup singers by any stretch of the imagination,” said Harrison in a recent interview we had on my radio show. “Groundation is about a balance of sound—everybody really taking part, sharing the spotlight…this is a part of our one-ness.”

Joining forces with Groundation on this album are two mighty, mighty queens of reggae: Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. Marcia and Judy, along with Rita Marley, were the I Threes—the original backing trio of Bob Marley & the Wailers in their heyday. Marcia’s gorgeous, etheral voice is considered one of the best in reggae music, and she is featured on track two, “Defender of Beauty.” Judy is featured on track six—the title track—”A Miracle,” sounding enticingly bluesy and soulful, combining perfectly with the jazzy piano and brass which set Groundation apart from other roots reggae bands.

A Miracle is a solid continuation of Groundation’s other recorded works. You can expect the previously-mentioned jazzy keys and saxophone, and the heavy, heavy basslines that make you want to fall to the floor. Their live show is a must-see. It’s good for your soul!

Along with the woman-centric theme, Groundation covers familiar ground with their lyrics—the state of the world, a call for liberation, trust in Jah, and the power of music. Within the woman-centric theme itself lies the curveball—because very rarely, if at all, had Groundation sung about romantic love. But in this case, as you will hear on the last track “Cupid’s Arrow,” it’s far from wishy-washy. It’s about real respect and equality. “Respect me, do the right….oh love me absolutely, and you and I shall prosper.”

Track four, “Gone A Cemetery,” has made the list of my favorite Groundation songs. It’s about a freedom fighter who met a cruel end. I don’t know if it’s about a specific person—if it is, I’m curious to know. Besides the lyrics, the melody is great.

Groundation is an internationally-acclaimed band, and their message is spiritual and universal. I strongly recommend picking up this album, plus more from the Groundation discography, and anything created or produced by Harrison Stafford—someone who works tirelessly to preserve reggae history and spread positive music to the masses.

From the inner liner notes of A Miracle: “This album is livicated to the beautiful female spirit: The powerful empress who manifests creation.”

Big up Groundation!



Kayla Liederbach
@djkaylakush

Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.


This Week in Music History (May 28th-June 3rd)

What’s music history got for us this week? Learn up and boogie down!

Oops I did it again5/28- On this day in 2000, Britney Spears topped the new millenium’s album chart with Oops!…I Did It Again. The album sold 1,319,000 copies in its first week and went on to reach No.1 in thirteen other countries. To date, it has sold over 20 million copies.

365447-large5/29- On this day in 1942, Bing Crosby recorded the Irving Berlin song “White Christmas” with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Crosby’s version is the best-selling single of all time, with sales to date topping 50 million.

Beatles5/30- On this day in 1964, The Beatles‘ single “Love Me Do” reached No.1 on the US singles chart, the group’s fourth US No.1 in five months’ time. Although the single was originally released in the United Kingdom in October 1962, it did not become a hit in the United States until 1964.

114141-large5/31- On this day in 1977, The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced a ban on the new Sex Pistols single “God Save the Queen”. Although the single reached No.2 on the UK chart, the BBC declared it to be “in gross bad taste” and considered it to be an assault on Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy. Lead singer Johnny Rotten, however, explained, “You don’t write ‘God Save the Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.”

32093-large6/1- On this day in 1968, Simon & Garfunkel went to No.1 on the US singles chart with “Mrs. Robinson”. An early version of the song was featured in the film The Graduate, starring Dustin Hoffmann and Ann Bancroft. It was then re-recorded to be released as a single, which went on to win the duo a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

7400-large6/2- On this day in 1984, British duo Wham! had their first No.1 hit with “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”. The song was written and produced by British musician George Michael, who was one half of the duo. Michael’s inspiration for the song was a note his Wham! partner Andrew Ridgeley had left for his parents which read “Wake me up up before you go go”.

13293-large6/3- On this day in 1967, soul legend Aretha Franklin hit No.1 on the US singles chart with her cover of Otis Redding‘s hit song “Respect”. Although the two versions were musically very similar, Aretha’s version added the famous R-E-S-P-E-C-T chorus and backup singers’ refrain of “Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me…”

Find these musical gems in our CD marketplace, and own your own pieces of music history! Every album purchase comes with unlimited streaming and downloads in mp3, aac, FLAC and ALAC. :-)