With a thick and rootsy sound, but an edge that suggests she's a Burning Spear or Mutabaruka for the 21st century, Jamaican singer and songwriter Jah9 was born Janine Cunningham in the Western rural town of Falmouth.
College brought her into town, the campus introduced her to Rastafarians, and the Rastas introduced her to dub, roots reggae, and artists like dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. Taking her childhood nickname of Jah9, she became a staple of Jamaica's progressive poetry scene, while recording demos with producer Sheldon Bernard led her to the legendary Beres Hammond. Through Hammond, she signed with Don Corleon Records in 2010 and recorded the singles "Warning" and "Keep Holding On" with producer Donovan Bennett. Her breakthrough year came in 2013 when her track "Brothers" shared a single with Chronixx and his song "Smile Jamaica" on the flipside, then her debut album, the aptly titled New Name, landed on Rory "Stone Love" Gilligan's label, Rorystonelove. A year later she released the compilation Singles, and in 2016 she joined the VP label with the single "Bloody City." ~ David Jeffries