When I met J.Glo (her real name is Gloria Haynes), the first thing that struck me was her smile: big and contagious, such a rare thing in Liberia. And when she was telling me all the obstacles she had to overcome at every corner of her life, the big smile was still there. Gloria’s story has the same components than many Liberian artists: a life affected by the war and political situation in her country, time spent outside Liberia, struggle to make her music and live from it.
Music has always been part of Gloria’s life as she started singing at her church when she was 8. And from that point onwards, she has been continuously writing songs and performing. She made her own luck, her determination to be an artist enabling her to finding new label to record her music, but also offering rare opportunities to perform. The most interesting case is when she performed in front of all the negotiators at the Accra peace agreement in 2003, singing about peace and unity.
Besides her will to keep on going despite the adversity and hurdles, what I like about Gloria was her resourcefulness: not only she is a singer but she is a professional stylist, a caterer and she designs her own clothing! Her music reflects these two features, but is also based on her personal experience, as she talks about love, pain and other things affecting her. Gloria is strongly influenced by West African music (especially from Ghana or Nigeria) but also Western music such as Rap, Hip Hop and Jazz.
Her two main songs are Your Spot and No Money Love. You can listen to them on SoundCloud or watch a video on Gloria with other Liberian artists on You Tube.
You have a friend’s birthday or an anniversary coming soon and you wonder what to offer?
We have a solution for you: the Liberian Gift Basket!
Here is what you could put in it:
- Club beer: Just in case they have forgotten (or do not know) how it tastes
- A Liberian rice bag: This is the Liberian staple
- Pepper sauce: Another Liberian staple
- Bottle opener made of disused AK-47: This one is going to earn you a lot of “cool points“.
- Nativity scene and Christian crosses made of ammunition: A great symbol of how far Liberia has moved forward.
- A bottle of Good Juju: Great juice from Liberia
- Wood carving artwork: Everything is possible in Liberia, so if you have something on mind, you can find skilled people in Monrovia to make it happen.
- Tailor-made traditional clothing: It is not limited to Liberia only (it is more a West Africa thing), but clothing is very colorful and distinct. Might not fit into a gift basket but still a nice present.
If you think of anything else that could be a present from Liberia, please let us know and we will update the list.
Like many artist coming from Liberia, Rabbie Nassrallah, aka Nasseman exemplifies the complexity of this small country of West Africa: Born in 1979 (the year of the coup that ousted the Americano-Liberian from power) to a Lebanese father (the Lebanse community in Liberia controls a significant portion of the economy, a source of resentment) and Liberian mother, Rabbie grew up in Monrovia witnessing his country going to hell during 14 years.
He began performing when he was eleven, but rose to prominence in 2005 with the hit “Till We Meet Again”, written in memory of his mentor Ras Katata. He has spent the intervening years honing his talent, and is now an accomplished songwriter, penning lyrics for Liberia’s hip-hop, R&B and gospel artists. The reggae songs he writes for himself are influenced by Bob Marley, Nasio Fontaine, Buju Bonton and Sizzla Kalonji.
As other Liberian artists such as Takun J, he mainly focuses on social ills, raising awareness among his fellow Liberians about how their society could be. Demonstrating his commitment to supporting his community, Rabbie served as a HIV/Aids Ambassador in 2010.
As one of Liberia’s most popular performers, Rabbie was a headliner for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s 2006 inauguration and opened for international star Akon when he visited Liberia. Rabbie’s new album Redemption Time is set to be released on November 29 this year. And after meeting him when he was shooting his new video clip, I can assure you he has not lost his verve!
If you want to listen to his music, follow him on Facebook, go to Spotify or iTunes.