“Now you can’t be everything to everyone,
You’ve got to learn to say ‘no.’
Now, how come you’re the one with every solution?
You’ve got to learn to say ‘no.’
Now I’m not Superman, I don’t care if you understand.
This is where I draw the line, . . .
Got to learn to say ‘no.’”
It’s not often artists sing to me during interviews, but last week reggae singer-songwriter Edge Michael gave me a live sound bite of “Just Say No” at the onset of our phone call. Michael calls it a relatively new favorite tune, inspired by a dear friend.
“She’ll inconvenience herself … [and] she goes out of her way every single day to do everything for everybody else,” he tells,
“and then when it comes to her own stuff, it’s always never done. I’m like, you have to learn at some point to say ‘no.’”
No matter how deep, uncomfortable or even dark the subject matter, Edge Michael, like many reggae artists, deliver their messages shrouded in positivity. How it’s shared is as impacting as the words that make it up. It reminds me of the old adage: “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”
“You can always discipline a child,” Michael adds, “but it’s the way you do it that the child will look at you tomorrow and know that you did it in love.”
Born Oral Mark Durloo and nephew to Peter Tosh of The Wailers, Edge Michael has spent his career singing of social justice, equal rights and living in love. In celebration of his famed uncle’s birthday, Edge Michael will perform with Selah Dubb on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at Burnt Mill Creek on Market Street.
Michael’s connection to Wilmington runs deep, with many ties and friendships throughout the community. He also sees Wilmington as having a dominate reggae market, with his own devoted fan-base that keep him coming back to play local shows and festivals, such as the Beach House Reggae Festival in Ogden.
“I am very lucky to have the support I have in Wilmington,” he says. “Wilmington has a real sweet set of fans. They won’t just come out—they’ll party and have fun. While my message is in the music . . . they enjoy getting the message.”
Michael’s muses often rise from current affairs but they’re also based on personal relationships and anecdotes. Yet he digs deeper into a larger and relatable storyline. One such tune was recorded three months ago, called “Indestructi-Bill,” named after his Wilmington friend, Bill.
“For the past four our five years [Bill] has been struggling with one illness or another,” Michael tells. “So, we affectionately call him ‘Indestruci-Bill’ [laughs]. . . . He’ll know it’s about him, but there are so many people facing these same issues (it addresses cancer, diabetes) and also addresses people looking at you and saying, ‘Oh, you are this, you are that,’ but it’s because you’re sick and they don’t know.”
From a songwriter’s perspective, news and day-to-day affairs continue to spark new ideas. There’s no way to focus on one issue, Michael says, because there are so many—and not just in the United States but across the globe.
“When you look around today, the world is not as pretty a place as we would want it to be,” he continues. “There’s a true need for equal rights and justice, there’s a true need for humanity to come together in peace. . . . [And] the more we get away from injustices and the more we create a balance . . . the message of equal justice and equal rights will become lessons we will keep.”
Edge Michael isn’t just conveying the upswing of keeping hope, while giving and sharing in peace, and love, he’s living it all by example. Community service and volunteering is something the artist incorporates into and around his touring each year. He typically finds avenues to help those who are in need of shelter, food, clothes, or all of the above.
Michael returned to Wilmington in August 2016 to work with the Good Shepherd Center to bring a taste of Jamaica to neighbors in need. While his friend—a Jamaican chef—cooked authentic island cuisine, Michael played with his full band.
“I see people as I see myself,” he says. “And these fellow brothers and sisters that have found themselves on hard times . . . for some, it’s not their fault where they are. Anywhere I play and people support my music, I feel it’s only right to find a way to give back to that community.”
According to Michael, he’s “road-testing” a lot of songs as of late with audiences. As far as he’s concerned, it’s the only way to confirm a song is really ready for an album. While nothing can be expected before 2016—though, Michael has enough recorded material to release four new albums tomorrow—there’s a project on the horizon in 2017.
“We’re trying to reach out to my more mature fans,” he says, “and so many people are looking at vinyl these days, so we’re trying to do vinyl, CDs and most definitely downloads. . . . But for me, apart from just building a catalog, I enjoy recording.”
Michael is eyeing a spring release date for new material. “The first day of spring represents new life, new beginnings, a freshness, new growth,” he beams.
Anyone who can’t wait until spring can see Edge Michael and Selah Dubb perform on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Burnt Mill Creek. It’s a family-friendly concert, with putt-putt for kids and kids-at-heart, and food truck for dinner on the go. Kids under 6 are free. Tickets are available at Burnt Mill Creek and Momentum Surf and Skate in downtown Wilmington. Visit the Facebook event page for more details and updates.
Follow Edge Michael on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @edgemichael or www.edgemichaelmusic.com.