John (JJ) Roberts – notable West Indian by Jamaican Products

John (JJ) Roberts is the second notable West Indian featured for April 2016. The stories of those featured will told in the form of an interview.

JJ Roberts
JJ Roberts

JJ is a Reggae Disc Jockey and owner of Soulmaker Sound System. Have a look at the end of the interview for his contact details.

When did you arrive in Australia and where were you born?
I was born in the parish of Saint Catherine, Jamaica and arrived in Australia in 1972.

Young Love
Young Love

What brought you to Australia?
I came to Australia after marrying an Australian woman, Cheryl.

What features of Australia do you think should be adopted in the West Indies and what features of the West Indies should be adopted in Australia?
Having experienced the bureaucracy and red tape of accessing documents such as birth certificates in Jamaica, and the lack of urgency with keeping appointment time, I would like to see more consideration given to the general public by the authorities in Jamaica.

I would like to see some of the passion for life we West Indians have injecting into the Australian culture. Life in the West Indies is vibrant and uplifting.

How did you get involved in music?
After living in London and being part of the sound system Reggae scene among many of the legendary founding artists such as Sir Coxsone and Jah Shaka, I found life in Australia without Reggae unbearable. I had my own sound system built here and started playing Reggae in 1973 at venues and private functions.

JJ, Don Jaro, Brent Clough adn D'Varo
JJ, Don Jaro, Brent Clough and D’Varo

What are some of your achievements?
I established the first Reggae sound system in Australia, the legendary ‘Soulmaker Sound System’ in 1973. I overcame cultural barriers faced in convincing local Publicans that people would want to listen to Reggae music in hotels and clubs.

As the pioneer of Reggae music in Australia, I find much joy to behold the growing popularity of Reggae music in Australia, opening doors for the first Reggae bands and the many other bands and sound systems which have followed.

Who do you admire and why?
I grew up in Jamaica hearing about Nanny of the Maroons. She was the head of the Maroons and led them during 1720 – 1739 in a struggle for the freedom of those still enslaved. She was given Jamaica’s highest honour of National Hero. I admire her for her leadership, strength, and courage against powerful forces.

What is your funniest cross cultural story while in Australia?
Sitting on the ground at a family picnic in Sydney soon after my arrival my 4 year old nephew leaned on my thin hard shin and then tapped with his fist. “It sounds like it’s made of wood” he said. When he pulled up my trouser leg he saw a thin brown leg and his eyes opened wide, “It is wood!”, he exclaimed.

Jonathan, JJ and Danny
Jonathan, JJ and Jason

How has your family contributed to your success?
I have had behind the scenes support from my family. My sons Danny and Jonathan have taken part in Soulmaker shows and are devoted to the ongoing quality and success of Soulmaker.

A series of Reggae shows will commence on 7th May 2016at Red Rattler Theatre, Marrickville. The shows present an authentic Jamaican artistic and cultural experience, and the best local Australian Reggae talent.

For bookings and further information on these events contact JJ Roberts.
Phone: 0449 682 073
Email: [email protected]


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