Rootfire first took shape as I was lying in bed with a notebook and pen.
I was trying to put a name to an idea, and put a feeling into that name by using words, art, and music to define a lifestyle that I could feel happening around me.
My goal was to create a community by sharing music and ideas with other creative people within the progressive reggae world, which for me is a special place within the larger reggae genre, the place where I first felt comfortable, and where I eventually learned to make my living.
The name Rootfire tells the story of a fire that starts underground, deep in the roots of a tree. The tree burns unnoticed until the center of its trunk catches and fire opens it up in a blaze.
In 2010 Rootfire was simply a way for me to share my voice and affect a scene that embraces reggae music and a thoughtful lifestyle. Initially, I did this largely unnoticed, relying on the good vibes of the gift economy. At one point, I even went as far as sending free Rootfire t-shirts around the world to anyone that wanted one. If you sent me an e-mail with your name and mailing address, I sent you a box as a gift, and if you felt inspired you could mail a donation back to help support the effort. I stuffed the boxes with postcards, repurposed CDs, stickers, and a shirt with the Rootfire logo- a symbol that I dreamed one day would become a beacon to represent the progressive roots community. It was like sending messages in bottles all around the world in the hopes that one would come back saying it was time to spread the movement’s wings.
At the center of Rootfire’s RF logo is a very small bird nestled between the two letters. The bird is flying forward with an egg in its mouth while looking backwards over its shoulder, a Ghanaian Sankofa symbol. It reminds us to acknowledge the progress that came before (look back over your shoulder), to take what’s good from where we came from (the egg), and to keep moving forward to create the future.
Since the first t-shirt mailing, Rootfire has taken hold as an idea and found a home at the center of the progressive reggae scene. The artists that we managed under the Rootfire umbrella toured the world sharing their music, and they helped spread the RF mission and tell the story in their own ways, spreading a message which was becoming as much theirs as it was mine. Together we created a new way to discover and shape the progressive reggae scene and in that shared experience, we formed into a loose collective or cartel, depending on how you interpret those words. Our intentions have always been about the music and lifestyle first, and creating a profitable business second, but we believed we could forward both at the same time.
Today we’re taking a conscious step to separate our lifestyle community and our music management company in hopes of creating an even stronger entity devoted to growing the Rootfire movement and the progressive reggae scene. Our music management division will stay fully intact, moving into a new home at Ineffable Music Group. The merger fulfills one of my lifelong dreams- to build a business with like-minded people, in a way that supports both our employees and the bands we love.
As for the Rootfire community… the heat is rising from the ground and the tree is just about ready to combust. Rootfire will go on, better funded, more widely connected, and with the clear purpose of developing into an antenna to transmit the music, the philosophy, and the lifestyle we love.
I will stay intimately involved in both the management business and the community, but for Rootfire to grow into the thing I want it to be, I need help, so I’ve reached out to some of my most trusted friends, closest allies, and biggest inspirations.
Starting next week, Giles Morris will debut a new type of weekly convocation in writing that introduces Sehmaj Surreal’s Reggae Tuesday and the special guest inspired Throwback Thursday article series. As we get our sails up, we will debut new features and music that are aimed at opening up conversations that give you, the people who make the scene, an opportunity to participate and connect with each other.
Progressive reggae is as strong as its ever been; we’ve grown the roots and now, with your help, we’re going to catch fire.
With love and respect,