VIDEO PREMIERE: Toots Hibbert Joins Papa Rosko for Reggae-style cover of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues”

Introducing the multi-genre recording and performing artist Papa Rosko, who will be releasing his self-titled debut album on October 16th. Papa Rosko pulls together a wide spectrum of genres on his debut album, fusing elements of rock, pop, alternative, Latin, and country music into a seamless reggae sound.

The self-titled album was recorded over the course of two and half years between studios in South Florida and Kingston, Jamaica. The results are an impressive album filled with original songs and a pair of country-reggae fusion covers featuring reggae and dancehall legends. The album kicks off with Papa Rosko’s take on the classic Johnny Cash song “Folsom Prison Blues,” featuring Toots Hibbert of Toots & the Maytals as special guest vocalist (Toots famously wrote his own prison song “54-46 That’s My Number,” which gets a shout out at the end of the song here.) Another cover on the album is of the timeless song “When You Say Nothing At All,” featuring Jamaican dancehall star Gyptian as guest vocalist. The song has been an international hit for three different artists (Keith Whitley, Alison Krauss & Union Station, Ronan Keating) spanning three different decades. The iconic tune has always been done as a slow love ballad, but Papa Rosko brings his unique style to it, picking up the tempo and immersing it in an island vibe. Add in Gyptian’s vocal stylings and this song is poised for prevalence into a new decade. The forthcoming music video fully encapsulates the uplifting vibe with Gyptian playing a starring role.

South Florida based Papa Rosko founded and fronted the band Voodoo Possum, based in Nashville, TN, playing country covers reggae-style in the honky-tonks and BBQ joints of Music City, in dive bars and music festivals in South Florida, and even the Austin Reggae Festival, where they shared the stage with Bunny Wailer, The Skatalites and Katchafire. While this mash-up of styles is a rarity, there is actually a long history of Jamaicans’ love of country music, dating back to the ‘60s, and some dancehall artists, including Beenie Man, had hit singles in the 90s that were essentially country songs. While he enjoyed the quirkiness of playing country-reggae fusion, Papa Rosko was getting stage time and finding the right sound and players for his true passion: writing, composing, recording, and performing meaningful original songs in multiple genres that connect with the broadest of audiences.

Today Glide is excited to premiere the video for Rosko’s reggae-style cover of Johnny Cash’s classic. A reggae reimagining of a Johnny Cash song would be intriguing no matter who made it, but what makes this extra special is the guest appearance of none other than Toots Hibbert of the legendary Toots & the Maytals. Hibbert recently passed away at the age of 77, making this one of his last recordings. Sticking to a standard reggae approach with a strong dub groove, Rosko layers in his twangy vocals accompanied by bluesy electric guitar and a bright horn section. The song is a stone cold groover, and Hibbert sounds full of wisdom and soul in his singing. The beautiful train imagery provides an engaging visual to work with the music. Interestingly enough, Hibbert wrote and recorded his own prison song (“54-46 That’s My Number”), which is alluded to at the end of the song. 

LISTEN:

Papa Rosko’s self-titled debut album is out on October 16th.

Photo: Credit: Kevin Rouse

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