A true roots pioneer, a true roots fundamentalist, Prince Alla is easily said to be one of many who helped pave the way and lay a foundation for Roots Reggae to be felt across the globe. Born May 10th, 1950 as Keith Blake hailing from St. Elizabeth, Jamaica and growing up in Greenwich Town, Kingston. He started his musical journey first with a group called “The Leaders” featuring Milton Henry and Roy “Soft” Palmer. It was Joe Gibbs who founded the group in the late 60s, producing the groups first songs at Federal Recording Company. Their early recordings were that of a rocksteady vibe, Prince Alla was not always trodding the path of Rastafari. From in his youth he had a vision and calling to Rastafari, but it wasn’t until after “The Leaders” separated that Prince Alla followed his calling. Taking a break from music he went and spent significant time at Prince Emmanuel Edward’s Bobo Hill in Bull Bay, where he learned and embodied the Rastafari livity. It wasn’t until the mid 70’s that he made his grounded reemergence to music.
Encouraged by his long time bredren Bertram Brown, founder of Freedom Sounds, Prince Alla came back to the music scene ready to record what was true to him, righteous roots music. He went on to record some of his most fervent and impactful works with Freedom Sounds; “City Without Pity,” “Bucket Bottom” and “Stone” (mixed by the great King Tubby) to name a few. He did not fail to put his stamp on the reggae scene reaching the masses, adding to force of the liberating reggae movement in the 70’s. He went on to work with other legendary producers like Tapper Zukie giving us the definitive classic “Bosrah” and “Nah Go a Funeral” with none other than Joe Gibbs. Prince Alla would often use the prolific Soul Syndicate Band to help carryout the sound vision he had for his music. Going steady and strong Prince Alla released “Heaven is My Roof” in 1978 his first LP also produced by Tapper Zukie.
Throughout the late 70’s and 80’s he continued to release music as he saw fit. With the digital music era on the rise his music did not suffer but reached new audiences instead. Prince Alla released “Jah Children Gather Round” in 1996 an album that proved his sound could withstand any transition and test of time. Prince Alla has given the world solid and impactful works; compilations, singles, EPs. One thing that should be noted throughout the decades is that he has stayed humbly true to his roots. These days you can find the reggae veteran touring across Europe, North America and more, well received anywhere he steps foot. Once a pioneer, always a pioneer.
A regular feature in the Unique Reggae Mix Show on Pauzeradio.com, you can often hear his new and classic works featured here. Also checkout our store with Prince Alla’s latest vinyl and CD releases.
Written By Chantal Adjoavi for Pauzeradio.com – 12th October 2019