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Stoke Newington musician given new sound system after storage fire

PUBLISHED: 13:08 27 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:32 28 August 2020

Jah Youth Roots Ambassador Alan Rolle, 62. Pcture: Razvan Pestean

Jah Youth Roots Ambassador Alan Rolle, 62. Pcture: Razvan Pestean

Razvan Pestean

After losing 40 years worth of sound equipment, a Stoke Newington musician has been given a brand new sound system designed and built especially for him.

Jah Youth Sound System. Picture: Razvan PesteanJah Youth Sound System. Picture: Razvan Pestean

Alan Rolle of the famous Jah Youth Roots Ambassadors reggae sound system has been making music since 1975, but recently, lost all of his sound equipment and dub plates in a storage fire.

He was devastated when he found out his insurance didn’t cover fire damage.

Jah Youth Roots Ambassadors sound system has been going since 1975. Picture: Razvan PesteanJah Youth Roots Ambassadors sound system has been going since 1975. Picture: Razvan Pestean

Alan said: “Yeah it was everything, I was just left with nuts and bolts and what couldn’t be burnt in the fire.”

He added: “When it burnt down I was off the circuit for a good old time.”

Mykey Hurley designed and created the Jah Youth sound system after Alan's equipment was lost in a storage fire earlier this year. Picture: Razvan PesteanMykey Hurley designed and created the Jah Youth sound system after Alan's equipment was lost in a storage fire earlier this year. Picture: Razvan Pestean

READ MORE: Grassroots music venues make open plea to government for financial support

So the 62 year-old asked designer Mykey Hurley to build him a brand new sound system.

Mykey had previously built some of the equipment lost in the four day storage fire, so he got to work creating a new sound system especially for Alan which he dubbed Phoenix Rises.

Alan told the Gazette: “He showed the designs but to see it was amazing! And it sounds amazing as well.”

Alan is looking forward to starting up a residency at Wally Foster Community Centre to teach young people about sound systems. Picture: Razvan PesteanAlan is looking forward to starting up a residency at Wally Foster Community Centre to teach young people about sound systems. Picture: Razvan Pestean

The long-time reggae musician says “things are up in the air” since Covid-19 hit but he looks forward to starting a residency at Wally Foster Community Centre near Kings mead estate in Homerton.

He wants to get young people involved and learning about sound systems, how to operate and get one up and running.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Hackney’s music venues face “catastrophe” without targeted government support

“I came to Hackney in about 1978 or 1979 and been here since that time. We’ve been using sound systems in Hackney and all around,” Alan said.

Jah Youth sound system was set up 45 years ago, a few years before Alan moved to Hackney from Forest Gate.

Today, it is known as one of the top roots sound systems in the United Kingdom and Europe.

While based in Hackney the system, which has a minimum crew of 10 persons including singers and DJs, has toured Europe and Africa extensively.

Jah Youth got its name Roots Ambassadors in the late 1980s after a years long trip to Africa.

The system played music in city halls from Kenya to Zimbabwe and Ghana.

In 1992, they returned to the UK leaving behind half of the sound system with a group of Kenyan youths who called themselves the Jah Youth Crew.

They carried on the musical tradition in Kenya.

Click here to follow Jah Roots Ammbassador sound system on Facebook.


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