If music is a universal language, then reggae is widely spoken. The genre has proven itself useful to Waldiney Silva, known professionally as DJ Waldiney. He is the radio personality and disc jockey who pledged to assist 1970s reggae songbird Yvonne Sterling all the way from the Brazilian city of São Luís.
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Reggae is a familiar sound in São Luís. This ethnically diverse island is part of the northern state of Maranhão that moves to the beat of the genre that earned it the epithet as the ‘Brazilian Jamaica’, shares DJ Waldiney, who, with the help of a translator, did an interview recently with The Gleaner . It is also home to the Reggae Maranhão Museum, branded the first reggae-themed museum outside of Jamaica and the second in the world in the Historic Centre of São Luís.
Irel Isabel Lanz
Since 1995, DJ Waldiney has hosted ‘Reggae Point’ – the reggae-centric radio programme — on Mirante FM, but he has been donning the title of a reggae DJ for more than 25 years, spearheading several projects which, he said, are based on the tenets of the genre, including the Maranhão Roots Reggae Festival.
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“I have always been playing reggae music, particularly the songs of Jamaican artistes. Yvonne Sterling is one of the many singers I love from the beginning of my career. My favourites from her catalogue are Full Of Music and If You Love Me (Let Me Know) ,” DJ Waldiney said.
Social Project It is just a small part of the radio personality’s reasons for wanting to help the singer, who has fallen on hard times. He added, “I write about reggae, and I have a social project called Reggae Solidário (which in English translates to ‘Solidarity Reggae’), which has already helped many people in the city of São Luís. So what better opportunity to give to reggae by helping a singer [who] is going through huge problems.”
DJ Waldiney says the reggae roots were firmly planted in his home from the ‘70s, and it was love at first sound – he was inherently attracted to the vintage beats, the producers and the voices that added to the story of the music
“As a researcher, I have written about reggae culture and history, which I share through my podcast. I have also been conducting research into the landscape of reggae and its singers who emerged in the 1970s, started a career and received fame for less than five hits, but are well known and still played nowadays. It is very intense, here in São Luís we love Toots,” he said, as he inquired about the reggae icon’s recent funeral
It is one of DJ Waldiney’s biggest dreams to visit Jamaica to complete his research, but the reggae advocate and activist said the pandemic also affects any plans to do so
DJ Waldiney shared, “I was invited [by] Kevin Isaacs, Gregory Isaac’s son, and Richie Stephens, too, but I don’t know yet when it will be possible.”
Unfortunately, the pandemic affected a lot his work, too. The money that he would donate through the Reggae Solidário social project to several charities, non-profit organisations and many people in need, he explains it as being, “un pouco menos”, or ‘a little less’ when translated from Portuguese, his native language
“I was unable to play for five months, (so) that affected a lot of the donations. I still donated during the pandemic, but not as much as I wished,” he said. “Funds were collected from here and there, but not the usual big donations. I play every Sunday at Porto Seguro, where I organise a big reggae show called Agarradinho and part of the money that comes from that weekly event goes to institutions like Solivida, which helps poor children with HIV.”
The Link Man DJ Waldiney has been instrumental in bringing many artistes like The Itals, Justin Hinds, U-Roy, Big Youth, Bob Andy, Cedric Myton, Dennis Alcapone, The Pioneers, Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Kevin Isaacs, and Richie Stephens to Brazil. Stephens, through their connections over the years, is the link man for this outreach for Yvonne Sterling from across the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea
It will be the first time that Reggae Solidário will be helping someone outside of Brazil since its inception in 1999. The reggae DJ is over the moon that Richie Stephens could be of assistance
“It was a sad situation, and I just wanted to know more about how I could help her from Brazil,” he said
The charity event he has organised to raise funds will see the participation of DJ Waldiney himself, and 11 other disc jockeys from the city: Wagner Roots, Alex Diniz, Maylson Ferreira, Plínio Sá, Junior Mol, Nenzoka Show, DJ Maykinho, Gilton Black, Belo Roots, Chico do Reggae, Dread Sandro, all of whom agreed to donate their services free of cost. It will take place this Friday, November 20, at the Porto Seguro Bar and Restaurant
He assured that it will follow all the health protocols to ensure the public will be protected from COVID-19. All the money collected with the tickets that are sold will be sent to Yvonne Sterling’s account
“Besides the help that I will be able to bring to Yvonne Sterling, I also encourage that the Government in Jamaica opens its eyes to help artistes like her and many others that in the past helped to build the reggae movement. I wish that the Government and also other artistes could put their hands together in order to assist the ones in need,” he said