This born and bred Brummie has been popping up everywhere lately, and spreading his messages of awareness (and action) to a larger audience with each new accomplishment – so if you haven’t been aware of his movements you must be living under a rock!
Zephaniah has carved out a memorable cameo role in the award winning TV drama, ‘Peaky Blinders’ set in 1919 Birmingham as street preacher Jeremiah Jesus, all the while continuing his quest for liberation of marginalised and overlooked peoples of the world.
Most Brummies of a certain generation can trace their knowledge of this keen-minded and proud Rastafarian back to school days, where his political opinions were being felt strongly in the classroom. His controversial poems were able to reach over social hurdles and find their way into our literature text books, which I remember finding surprising even as a primary school student. His ability to break down complex socio-political issues into succinct matter-of-fact verses gave him a direct line into the hearts of many, he called this ‘street politics’. Our Robin Hood of the early 70s, claiming the art of poetry from the elite and giving back to the common man, opening up a stage for important issues that had largely been ignored.
So where did it all begin for Benjamin Zephaniah? He started his career at ten years old performing at his local church. By the age of 15 he had already gathered a significant following in his neighbourhood, Handsworth, which he affectionately referred to as the Jamaican capital of Europe. Seeking a bigger audience than the Afro- Caribbean and Asian communities he preached to embolden, he moved to London where bigger change could happen, and from there he has taken his inspiration around the world.
What are the latest happenings with this restless man of many talents? His new album ‘Revolutionary Minds’ was released on September 1st and is available now! He and his band have been touring some of the more intimate summer festivals – Latitude, Womad, Shambala, Boomtown, and here are some upcoming gigs you can still get involved in throughout autumn:
14 Oct Jazz Cafe London
21 Oct District, Liverpool
22 Oct Musicport Festival, Whitby
11 Nov Hastings Storytelling Festival
‘Amid the chaos of the modern world, “Revolutionary Minds” is the soundtrack for the modern revolutionist; it will make you feel empowered, hopeful, galvanised to make a difference and make you dance; it’s a dub thing.’ – Boomtown, behind the music
In the meantime we’re look forward to the return of the fantastically compelling Peaky Blinders’ fourth season and keeping our fingers crossed for another cameo from our cheeky Brummie street preacher, Benjamin Zephaniah.
P.S. – Couldn’t we get a petition going to get him involved in the next Mostly Jazz Fest? Or the next Lunar Fest? It’s about time!