BOND – Although Pato Banton’s been in the music industry for 26 years, he feels like a young kid starting his musical journey again. However, he admits that he has the advantage of a prolific legacy that he can pick up where he left it after a staggering personal tragedy.”This isn’t about playing music to make money, this is a mission for me. It’s like a mission for spreading positive messages,” said Banton. “I think people need to be hearing self-empowerment messages today, messages touching on social, family and political issues. But not just looking at them in a negative light, looking in from a spiritual viewpoint and being positive about the different situations that are going on right now.”Banton suffered the crushing loss of two sons to a drive-by shooting a few years ago in his hometown of Birmingham, England, so he took a break from his career to work with homeless kids, those involved in crime and with no educational background to make things better in his community.He set up a community organization that linked about 20 community centers together in the most deprived area of the city. He raised money from the British government to put musical equipment in every community center.
Within the first year of Banton’s quest to ameliorate the crime and violence in his home, the top college in the city, Matthew Boulton College, invited Banton and his team to set up a music department there.Banton’s program provided these kids a doorway into the college, and it became a huge success across the city, he became the head of the music department in the first six months, he earned his teaching qualifications and counseling skills qualifications, and he received a lifetime achievement award from the city. He then went on to work with five other colleges across the region. He taught at kindergartens, secondary schools and set up music departments in about 20 different schools.”(I) got a ton of kids back into education or into work, so the last six or seven years, for me, have been the most amazing time I’ve ever had in my life,” said Banton.One of Banton’s favorite success stories involves a Polish exile who could barely speak English, working as a custodian at the college.
He passed his level 1 and 2 courses, went on to achieve a national diploma, became a qualified lecturer and Banton’s engineer, and now works in one of the top clubs in Birmingham City as the main house engineer for live shows.”That’s just one of many, many, many people whose lives are changed. They’re doing really well now, and they’re giving back to the community,” said Banton.
Pato Banton was born Patrick Murray. He began his career as an MC in his stepfather’s V-Rocket Reggae Sound System.He got his stage name from his stepfather. “Pato” came from a wise owl in Jamaica that stays up all night saying “Patoo, patoo,” and “Banton” means heavyweight DJ.He has recorded with Sting, UB40, Mad Professor and members of Steel Pulse.Banton says reggae music is definitely the foundation of his music, though he really loves all styles of music.When asked what it takes to hone the vocal and lyrical skills and virtue he gets to share, he responded with: “For me it’s about looking about life, writing about it, singing it, chatting it in the ways I can over the various styles of music that are available to me. I guess they say the more you try to do something, the better you become at it. So, my secret is repetition, just constantly doing what I do and growing into what I have become.”
The band is a group of folks from California who grew up loving Banton’s music, learned his music and now get to perform it with the artist himself.Tony’s on drums, Carlos is on bass, Coot Dog raps and plays keys, Shane plays keys and does some lead vocal work, Storm plays the sax and D-Rock plays lead guitar.Roberto Angotti, the first person to bring Banton to America 20 years ago after UB40 promoted him, is back managing the humanitarian superstar.Banton hasn’t performed at the Colorado venues in four years, and he says he’s pretty excited to be coming back.Banton says his dreams and aspirations right now include “To become a better person, to keep growing spiritually, to share that growth through the music, so that I can touch people and help them become better people. And hopefully, if that passes on to enough people, then I will have made contribution to making this a better world.”Vail Colorado
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