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Mark Wonder

Since Wonder's first album Signs Of The Time was released in 1996 by Dutch label Zola & Zola, he has been heralded as one of the new crop of singers likely to fill the vacuum left by the sudden departure of Garnett Silk. But, even with two more albums under his belt, he is yet to win the acclaim his early career promised. Now Wonder thinks that he has found the right formula with his fourth."This album reflects what I've learnt since then and the lyrics come from those experiences," he says. "For example, I remember one afternoon prior to a summer tour of Europe, we were just jamming, the whole vibes for the song Kingston City came to me: Dutty tough a yard, some travel gone abroad, y'kno." He says that his numerous visits to Europe, especially Switzerland and Holland, have opened up his mind to things he never knew before. "I found a lot of people there who are opposed to the system, just like we are opposed to the system. In Rome, I met people who just love when Rasta criticise the Pope," he explained. Wonder says that for years roots reggae has been the favourite of the rebel types in Europe, or people who, he says, "share the same opinions as us". However, he admitted that with the advent of Shaggy and Sean Paul, the reggae net has been widened as there is now a large dancehall following. "Roots music is still dominant, but dancehall is making headway," he said. He says that Switzerland has become like a second home since he first travelled there in 1999, courtesy of Michael Burkhalter's Trinity Records. Wonder, who originates from Kingston, but grew up in Albion, Manchester, started recording in the late 1980s. He had originally planned to become a jockey, but the jockey school intervened. He was unable to procure a school-leaving certificate, after dropping out of school, in order to get entry to the jockey school, so he decided to stick to music. His career took off after he was introduced to producer Milton Moore (Soundproof), in the early 1990s, by dub poet DYCR. His first album, Signs Of The Times (Zola & Zola), was released in 1996. This was followed by a live album recorded in Switzerland, courtesy of Trinity Records in 2001. Then came Jeremiah for local label Soundproof, in 1999. Although those albums established him somewhat in the market, Wonder thinks that it is this new album that will actually break the ice for and make him a household name wherever roots reggae is enjoyed. The title track speaks to the issue of the problems facing Jamaican ghetto youths. "It is a message song I wrote with Albert Dias which asks the question: 'Heads of government, what you gonna do?' The livity no right, how dem dealing with poor people situation, especially the youths," he confirmed. One track, So Much War, was produced by Holland's Overdose Productions, but most of the tracks were done by Soundproof's Milton Moore. In addition to the album, Wonder has recorded a number of singles which he expects to do well this year, including Spiritual Warriors, featuring Gentleman from Germany.

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