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Thank you for visiting this site. Like many writers I tend to shy away from the demands of social media - your presence here is therefore very much appreciated…
I've been a professional music journalist for over thirty years, writing for mainly print outlets and specialising in reggae and its various offshoots including dancehall, dub and lovers rock. During that time, I've interviewed many of the genre's best-known and most influential figures, along with countless other artists and musicians from Britain, Jamaica and elsewhere who’ve made a contribution and have stories to tell. Curious as ever, I’m still writing about the music as it continues to evolve, in addition to working on various book projects – both as a ghost-writer and an author in my own right.
Below are some testimonials from people in the reggae industry who know me well and are able to articulate what I do with rather more pizzazz than I’m capable of! I am indebted to each and every one of them.
John Masouri has been writing about the various strains of Jamaican music for over 40 years and his reporting is regarded as a journalistic gold standard: fearless yet sensitive, supportive but devoid of hyperbole, compassionate yet uncompromising in truth telling. Born and raised in the UK, John possesses extensive knowledge of the culture that birthed ska, rock steady, reggae, dub, dancehall and lovers rock yet his writing makes the manifold nuances of Jamaican music clearly understandable to the uninitiated.
An accomplished author, John’s books Stepping Razor: The Life of Peter Tosh, Wailing Blues: The Story of Bob Marley's Wailers, and Simmer Down: Marley, Tosh, Livingston mesh meticulous research with compelling storytelling, as he skillfully collates the gritty narratives and often times convoluted details surrounding the personal and professional journeys of the aforementioned reggae icons. An esteemed colleague and a cherished friend, John’s has made an inestimable contribution to the greater understanding and appreciation of reggae music far beyond Jamaica’s shores.
Patricia Meschino is a New York City based journalist who has been writing about Caribbean music and culture for over 30 years. A longstanding writer with Billboard, Patricia is also a contributor to Rolling Stone, Grammy.com and NPR Music, among other publications.
“For all of us on this transformative journey through reggae music, John Masouri has been the principal narrator of all our stories, the lens by which we view ourselves and the pen that gives us voice.
His constant interpretation and translation of not only Jamaican music but also the culture has informed several generations and will continue to flatter and inspire future generations of consumers and creatives alike.
John just gets it. He is truly a literary treasure for reggae music.”
Record producer, Music business educator.
Former manager Sean Paul
“In 31 years I have never seen a human being that can make someone so comfortable that they are willing to share their hopes, dreams and life secrets with like when John interviews my artists. That's not just a sign of great journalism, that's signs of a great friend!”
Cristy Barber, a Grammy nominated music producer and 30 year music industry veteran, has produced music for artists such as Jay-Z, Pharrell, Big & Rich, Larry Gatlin of The Gatlin Brothers, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Stephen Marley, just to name a few, earning herself several Grammy nominations and wins, as well as gold & platinum selling records. She has also served on several committees within the LA/Nashville Recording Academy Chapters for over 18 years. She has held positions at several record companies including; Capitol Records, Columbia Records, Island/ Polygram, Elektra and Def Jam/ Universal where she was the President of the Marley Family owned labels, Tuff Gong & Ghetto Youths International and a former Vice President of Marketing and Promotions at VP Records, the world’s largest reggae label.
“As Editor of Echoes, I feel very blessed that we have the best reggae writer in the UK writing for us every month. His subject knowledge is unsurpassed - at a level that only comes from a lifetime of love for the music and an abiding fascination with the people who make it.”
Chris Wells, Editor, Echoes Magazine
“Over the decades from the rise of reggae to now, John has pioneered the way in high quality journalism and writing, authoring many key books on legendary artists and movements within the genre.
John was very much on the ground at the start of the music’s meteoric explosion in the 70s, which gives his insights, gritty and heartfelt realism. His work speaks for itself: engaging, knowledgeable and refreshingly honest. His passion and commitment to the genre and to telling the very human stories behind the artist’s image, never ceases to amaze me. If you want to get into the heart and soul of the genre and the real stories behind the music, John will take you there.”
Karen Proctor, Label Manager, VP Records
“John Masouri is both a brilliant writer and the consummate professional. His depth of knowledge in his chosen field of music and reggae music in particular is unparalleled. John’s work is always informative and scholarly but still entertaining, clear, and easy to read.
I have worked with John on many projects over the years and he always meets his deadlines, he makes himself accessible and has always consulted with me during the process. John has written numerous liner notes and artist bios for me and having his name associated with my projects has always added credibility and value.
I have seen John soldier through some of the most difficult projects with some of the most difficult clients while always keeping his calm and focus and still delivering quality work on time. I always look forward to working with John.”
CEO-Mill Rock Music Publishing
Sean Paul A&R VP Records (1999-2010)
“During my 60 year reggae record label career, I have met some profound individuals who have contributed significantly to development of reggae and the Jamaican music culture. One of these individuals is the prolific author, music journalist and friend, John Masouri. Through his passion and appreciation for reggae and other forms of music, John has led an extensive career of storytelling, propelling the careers of countless Jamaican recording artists, musicians, record producers and the culture itself. John has been lauded for these writings and has attracted a worldwide audience.
I have personally worked with John on numerous occasions both for VP Records and with the writing of my autobiography, and each time I am amazed at how he immerses himself into each project as if it were his own. He is a true professional, totally committed, and possesses an outstanding work ethic from beginning to end. John has built a reputation on creativity and innovative thinking, traits that I not only respect but also admire over the decades of our friendship!”
Patricia “Pat” Chin, OD
Cofounder, VP Records, New York
“It is without doubt that John Masouri deserves the accolades he walks with as one of the most respected reggae journalists, historians and writers across the world. Jamaican music has been part of the fabric of his early life from his childhood in Nottingham, England. This was one of the popular areas where the yardie immigrants would land with not only their identifiable accents, but their music and every other aspect of their culture.
Jamaican popular music has been a part of his socialisation from its nascent ska. It influenced his navigation through his adolescence as a marginalised English working class youth, helping him to make sense of his own realities as he identified with the message of resistance and also unification in the reggae / Rastafari genre. With the change of the music to the dynamic, rhythmic patterns of dancehall, he joined Echoes – then a black music weekly – out of the UK. For over forty years, Echoes has been the forerunner in everything reggae, reporting on all the latest artistes and happenings to reggae fans across Europe and the world. Because of the respect he garnered over the years by the success of Echoes and his top-class journalism, he has been commissioned by many agencies as a writer, ghost-writer, researcher and historian for many different aspects of Jamaican popular music, whilst his books have become tools of research for scholars studying Jamaican music across the world.”
Reggae artist Nadine Sutherland
“John Masouri is one of the most knowledgeable writers in our genre. What makes him special is a deep understanding of the history of reggae, paired with an insatiable interest for what’s new and evolving. That’s rare.”
Lem Oppenheimer, Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder of Easy Star Records.
“John’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the reggae genre and personal relationships with so many of its artistes make his books highly informative and entertaining and his record reviews one of the few I actually read. On top of that, he’s a lovely guy.”
Robin Campbell, UB40.
“I’ve known John for years and he’s been keeping the news in reggae alive all that time. He brings people up-to-date on what is happening in the industry when it comes to new releases and which artists are doing what… John is one of the greatest journalists for providing that kind of information and he’s been doing it for one of the biggest magazines in London, which is Echoes. I remember that as soon as I fly into London I have to go to the store and buy Echoes to see what records he is talking about because if John endorses a record, then I have to get it. I always learn something and then when he’s reviewing a record that I know, I’d be saying the same thing that he is. The way he writes about the music and the way he puts his views across, I can see it and even doing an interview with him, he goes to the core because he knows about everything and even in Jamaica, I never do interviews like that.”
Sly Dunbar, the world’s greatest reggae drummer.
“John Masouri is one of the few excellent writers whose knowledge of Jamaica’s musical genre reggae has made him one of the most highly regarded historians of the genre. For Jamaicans, the music that made Jamaica a world-known and world-respected nation needs its scribes – especially those who love for it makes them write about it in as much detail and with as much love as he does.
His books “Stepping Razor: The Life of Peter Tosh”, “Wailing Blues: the Story of Bob Marley's Wailers”, and “Simmer Down: Marley, Tosh, Livingston” provide students, fans and inheritors of reggae music’s salubrious chords and riddims with details about the creators, producers, players and inspirations of the famous sounds.
Growing up in a post-Windrush Britain hardly welcoming the influx of black-skinned immigrants, he was one of the young white kids hearing the new sounds coming from West Indian house parties in the early 60s that drew them like moths to the reggae flame. The reggae fire never went out in John.
To the in-depth research that he gained from his own experiences, over time he has added historic details of the lengthy list of Jamaicans who have made the music great, producing written records of all the musicians who played on tracks, the dates, studios, producers sales and performances of reggae, that has made him a respected authority and reference for everything to do with Jamaica’s internationally loved music.
Tribute must continually be paid for his lifetime dedication to the written history of reggae.”
Barbara Blake Hannah, author, broadcaster and Jamaica Film Festival director.
“John Masouri is the UK’s pre-eminent reggae journalist. For more than 30 years he has been my first port of call for reggae news because of his empathy with the qualities and values of this music in its many forms, his deep insights into reggae’s back story and those who laid its foundations, and his endless enthusiasm for the creativity of the reggae artists of Jamaica and beyond.”
Ian Burrell, journalist with The Atlantic and Independent, and co-author of David Rodigan’s autobiography, Rodigan: My Life In Reggae.
“As a journalist and historian, John’s knowledge and understanding of Jamaican and reggae music is unique.”
John Reed, Cherry Red Records, former editor of Record Collector and Head of Specialist Projects, Sanctuary Records.
"John is one of reggae music’s great writers. He’s a total music man and writes with such understanding, knowledge and love of it..."
Adrian Sherwood, record producer and On U Sound label owner.
Kenny Smyth - Stronger - Kenny Smyth
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