The Abyssinians make a special appearance in Bond tonight | VailDaily.com
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The Abyssinians make a special appearance in Bond tonight

Laura A. Ball

BOND – The roots harmony vocals of The Abyssinians brought a unique quality of Rastafarian majesty to some of the most important tracks ever recorded in Jamaican reggae, including “Satta Massagana,” often referred to as reggae’s national anthem. Bernard Collins, Donald Manning and Linford Manning first came together in the musical heart of Trenchtown, Jamaica, in the mid-’60s, at the same time Bob Marley was playing and recording. When the Abyssinians went to the studio for a session, it was as though the musicians were no longer doing work but rather on a mission to make music that would last through the ages. The Abyssinians’ music has influenced nearly every reggae artist, because of the deeply spiritual lyrics Collins and the Manning brothers sang and the original rhythms the group utilized. Donald Manning and Collins reunited on stage for the first time in more than 10 years in Europe last year, and for the first time, Collins is touring in the United States.In recent years, group co-founder Donald Manning has performed internationally under the name The Abyssinians with his brother Carlton Manning (of Carlton and The Shoes) and singer David Morrison. Meanwhile, in Jamaica, Bernard Collins has long been known as “The Abyssinian” and has been performing with longtime associate George Henry. The Abyssinians make a very special appearance at State Bridge Lodge in Bond tonight at 7:30.”I just come and express myself in a way that I feel desirable to the people,” Collins said. “Most people say they feel a sense of some spiritual vibes flowing, and basically that’s what it’s all about. It’s more like a spiritual feeling.” Their songs reflect their heritage, the struggles they’ve had to endure – and faith.”I read the bible all the time,” Donald Manning said. “If you listen to all our songs, you’ll understand. All our songs are talking about God, the Bible and people. They’re about humanity, equality and justice. Without God, you have nothing.””Satta Massagana,” which means “give thanks,” is notable for its use of Amharic, the language of Ethiopia (Abyssinia). The Amharic is a result of Donald Manning’s Rastafarian influence on the group. The study of Amharic in Kingston in the ’60s was a function of the post-colonial, Pan-African identity and Rastafarian awareness sweeping the ghetto after Haile Selassie’s 1966 visit to the island. “The word Abyssinian, if you look at the encyclopedia, it really means mixture of races, you know,” Collins said. “In other words, it means Africa, it means Ethiopia, which represents the whole of Africa. Our inspiration comes from the struggle of our poeple. When I look back at our history of Jamaica, I put myself right back in the plantation and I just visualize myself there. I’ve experienced some of the same things growing up in the late ’50s in Jamaica. Somebody has to come up with those songs, because we experienced that struggle and it’s history. It’s really history to me. It’s not something to be hidden.” The group’s deeply spiritual, africentric lyrics were crystallized on virtually every cut on the album, including “Satta,” “Declaration of Rights,” and “Y Mas Gan.” Donald Manning’s masterpiece “African Race” is one of defining compositions of the group’s career.”When you come, you see what we can do,” guitarist Donald Manning said. “When we come, we’re gonna catch a fire.” Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or laball@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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