Roots, rock, reggae
By Sherron Lumley
Smoke Signals staff writer
Music producer and Grand Ronde Tribal member Adam Sierra is bringing an all-Indigenous reggae and hip-hop show to the Tribe’s ceded homelands on Friday, Jan. 26.
Sierra, co-founder of Chalice Row Records, is hosting, “Rebel Music,” Friday, Jan. 26, at The Haven in southeast Portland.
“This show is showcasing all Native artists,” Sierra, 39, said. “It’s a reggae and hip-hop performance with some spoken word, and we focus on cultural identity, mental health awareness and entrepreneurship. The purpose is to uplift the community, to help keep our Native culture relevant and seen.”
The Haven show will feature Mista Chief (Northern Cheyenne), Savelle Tha Native (Chetco/Shasta/Siletz), Mz. Shellz (Cree) and Yng Native (Haida/Tsimshian) with special guest DJ D-Rock. Native pop-up restaurant Javelina is providing food for the event.
Meanwhile, Sierra is also busy organizing the third annual Oregon Reggae Fest, a three-day event relocating to Stayton from Ashland for the first time this summer.
The festival will be held July 26-28, and will bring together a lineup of reggae music, wellness workshops, children’s activities, cultural arts and crafts, and world cuisine. The new location, approximately an hour’s drive from Grand Ronde, brings the venue much closer to where Sierra grew up.
He said that he knew at a young age he wanted to be a music producer. It began with a book he read while a student at Sheridan High School. One thing led to another, and Sierra began producing shows while living in Willamina when he was 21.
He went on to co-found Chalice Row Records with recording artist Young Shanty (Jason Cannon), who debuted at the top of Billboard’s reggae album chart in 2007.
The duo initially focused on Jamaican Rastafari reggae, and later dancehall, a newer form of reggae with a faster beat. That decision took the label to Florida in 2015 to be closer to the artists and a large network of radio stations playing reggae music.
Working with well-known American and Jamaican artists, Sierra began touring extensively in the U.S. and traveling internationally in Europe, doing tours, tour management, music videos and everything that goes into making a career successful for an artist.
“Now I’m starting to help Native American artists,” Sierra said. “It took some time, but now I have the extra skills needed for Native artists and the knowledge to help them.”
Sierra first met reggae artist Mista Chief in 2010, but wasn’t yet working with him.
“He is representing hard for Native reggae,” Sierra said. “He is one of the few.”
Sierra chose The Haven, a loft-style communal art and healing space that can hold about 150 people, because it suits his artists and the spoken word element of the show. The smaller stage and non-club venue without alcohol engages the community with the music and artists, and welcomes more people to attend.
“I stopped drinking before age 21,” Sierra said. “I realized that’s not the type of environment that’s best for our music. Chalice Row Records represents positivity with chalice meaning life, the opposite of death.”
Tickets are $10 if purchased in advance at https://lnkfi.re/zPwSU1 and $20 at the door. The Haven is located at 819 SE Taylor St., Portland. Doors open at 8 p.m. The show is for those 18 years of age and older.