It's definitely not everyday, that you got the chance to listen to reggae from Casablanca, Morocco. When I got this CD from the reggae record company Lion Of Zion, I must admit, that it didn't catch my immediate interest and by looking at the cover showing a white Northern African wearing sunglasses I asked myself, would he be able to sing reggae? But all of my prejudice was into a big surprise, when I one day thought "well, I might listen to this CD after all" and put it in my CD player and pushed the play button. Heavy bass lines, well produced arrangements with a real horn section, lots of dynamic and a great voice in the forefront (Roge Abergel) blasted through my loudspeakers and I was captivated! Inspired by reggae icons like Burning Spear, Israel Vibration and Christafari, who also happens to appear on the CD, Onward & Upward is one of the best roots reggae releases in many years. The CD contains heavy and traditional roots reggae, but comes in a wonderful new style, which makes the album go forward, but also sounds like something familiar in comparison only with the best in the business. All tracks consist of relevant lyrics from the Bible reflecting Abergel's Christian belief. Many of the musical arrangements have a dubbed edge, where also the Christian musician and dub professor Solomon Jabby have had his way around. The album is greatly produced by Mark Mohr from Christafari and the Grammy winning Rick Balentine, who mostly is known for his work in rock and indie music. In a time where reggae business seems to be in need for change, Onward & Upward is a brilliant fresh breeze, bringing new hope to reggae music.
Review by Henrik Baek
Bred up by the sounds of Africa's Ivory Coast and influenced by artists ranging from Burning Spear and Bob Marley, and Fela Kuti, Gospel Reggae artist Roge Abergel (pronounced Rowjay- Aberjel) is poised to establish for today's generation all the soul, strength, positivity, and the cries for spiritual liberation that form the backbone of authentic Roots Reggae.
Born in Casablanca, Morocco (North Africa), Roge's parents relocated their family in the Ivory Coast, where they lived in Marcory a district South of Abidjan. Nurtured there on a copious diet of Jamaican vinyl imports, Roge immersed himself into the socially and spiritually charged Roots music that served as his musical awakening.
Surrounded by the cry of neighboring African nations that resonated with the island music's themes of poverty, racial discrimination and resistance to government oppression and corruption, he began his career jamming with his friends at a neighborhood park late at night, Later on along with Ghanaen musicians Roge performed in local venues, as well as parties covering the music of Jimmy Cliff ,Bob Marley , Burning Spear and UB40 .
Filled with a burning desire to further his music career, in 1983, Roge Abergel moved to the United States, but an unexpected spiritual encounter with Christ lead him down the path of an altogether different mission. Shaken to the core by his spiritual awakening Roge put aside his music pursuit in order to focus on building a strong spiritual foundation.
After completing theological studies and ministerial training,Roge Abergel founded a local church in the Los Angeles area , where he continues to lead an serve a growing congregation since 1991 . Roge Abergel is internationally known for his passion to educating and empowering people to discover their potential for the fulfillment of their destiny in the kingdom of God. Over the course of his life he has visited 30 different nations which helped shape his unique multicultural personality and Global Worldview.
In April 2007, while working in the Caribbeans, ROGE ABERGEL began to sense his musical and spiritual calls aligning. Attuned to a sense of divine timing, upon returning from the Caribbean, ROGE ABERGEL sought out Grammy-nominated producer, RICK BALENTINE, and the pair began a fruitful creative collaboration. To top off the project Roge worked with Christian Reggae pionner and Dub Scientist, MARK MOHR of the prominent Gospel Reggae group CHRISTAFARI whom also added other very powerful and important elements to the production
ONWARD & UPWARD is the stunning result of that collaboration. Roge Abergel's album is one of the newest electrifying Roots reggae sound to hit the scene in recent years. With booming bass lines, infectious clav melodies from RICK BALENTINE, a growling horn section and drums from the CHRISTAFARI crew, the guitar contributions of OBIE OBIEN and SOLOMON JABBY.This project also features the vocal contributions of some of today's most prominent voices in Gospel Reggae such as MONTY.G, LYNETTE WHITE, DAVID FOHE from IMISI, and Bahamian Reggae artist and minister SINGATON. The album delivers infectious modern Roots grooves that both roar and pulse. Make no mistake -- this effort is no lightweight debut. Roge Abergel manages to transcend commercial imitation, infusing each track with all the spiritual authenticity and organic soul that earmark the genre's greatest albums. All this is perhaps a testament to his sensitivity and maturity, not simply as a musician, but more importantly as a gifted artist who draws inspiration from genuine faith in his message.
Recorded AT SCORE L-A STUDIOS(Rick Balentine) and ALTAR SOUNDS STUDIOS (Solomon Jabby), mixed and mastered at Mark Mohr's (Christafari) Zionic Sounds Dub Lab, ONWARD & UPWARD contains 13 SOUL SHAKING tracks. Roge Abergel and Kingdom Culture also has a dub album called "Dubs of Glory."