This originally ran in the St. Louis American in August of 1997.

Get ready, St. Louis. Lucky Dube, one of the greatest, and most sincere artists in the history of reggae, returns to town after a five year hiatus.

Dube (pronounced “doo BAY’) subcribes to the Bob Marley roots tradition - in sound and lyrics - and brings his passionate, Peter Tosh-like vocal style to Mississippi Nights this Thursday night, August 14th.

Resisting the popular (and rough) sounds of dancehall, Dube instead incorporates jazz, gospel and rock into his smooth style resulting in what can only be classified as modern roots. This South African superstar crafts complex and infectious songs which are smooth yet powerful, and is currently touring with an eleven piece band (complete with horns and choreographed Zulu dancing by the three outstanding female harmony vocalists).

In a recent interview from California, Dube started things off by discussing Peter Tosh. “He still is like the greatest influence to me, even now. People who say I sound like him, I really don’t know how that happens cause I wouldn’t try to be or sound like Peter Tosh because there is only one Peter Tosh, ya know. All I can say is that maybe it’s because he still is such a great inspiration to me.”

Dube went on to discuss his early days in the music business. “Well, reggae was not very well accepted by the Government. And the people were kind of afraid in those days [the early ‘70’s]. They were afraid to even OWN a reggae tape. Cause if you were found with a Tosh or Marley tape, the police would kick the [you know what] out of you and even throw you in jail.

“The record companies just weren’t interested in reggae. So I played Zulu music, but my real love was for reggae, so in 1984 we recorded “Rastas Never Die,” but it didn’t sell. See, there was no airplay and they didn’t promote it, cause they didn’t actually approve of it.

“They wanted us to go back - IMMEDIATELY - and record a Zulu album. They booked the studio and we went in but we recorded another reggae album, “Think About The Children.” And that title song was the one that started the whole Lucky Dube thing going, cause it was kind of a “mildish” song, you know, about children, so it was able to get some airplay, draw some attention. Then the next one, “Slave,” is the one that finally made history in South Africa [going triple gold in three months].”

Dube then went on to respond to what his message is. “Ya know, my message is one of unity, the togetherness of people basically. I want unity in ALL people. I’m not a racist in ANY way. Of course, you can’t force people to like each other, what we do is we make them aware of what’s going on.”

When you saw a black man you saw a criminal
When I saw a white man I saw an oppressor
But now that we know where we went wrong
Let’s unite...
That is why they call me ‘Trinity’
Cause my game is unity
- from “Trinity”

“Yeah, ‘Trinity’ was my nickname from High School. In those Terrance Hill movies - all those Westerns - ‘Trinity’ was the man who was always fighting for righteousness. There was no movie where he was the bad guy. He was always the good guy. So I loved ‘Trinity’ so much that I tried to always be like him, fighting for righteousness.”

In concert, Dube is dynamic with a song list which rivals that of any superstar. Between songs he discusses his ideology, then skanks into another of his thought-provoking numbers. He promises a two hour-plus performance on Thursday night. “I can promise that we’ll give everyone a good show. Everybody in my party enjoys what they’re doing. We’ll be playing songs from albums in the past up to the new one, “Taxman.” And the aim - as always - is to entertain, to educate and to unite.”

Lucky Dube is at the peak of his considerable talents. His backing band is comprised of exceptional musicians and Dube is truly one of the greatest artists in reggae - or ANY genre. But don’t take my word for it. Check him out yourself and with the intimate setting of Mississippi Nights as the venue, this just might be one of the best shows you’ll ever see.