Seasoned industry veteran’ is perhaps the phrase which best describes Wenti ‘Wadada’. With an ear for music & a eye for talent and a predilection for innovation, the platinum bearded Rastafarian originates from the musically celebrated island of Jamaica, but his eclectic (to say the least) resume is a reflection of the diversity of his formative years, spent in both Jamaica, and London, with a couple of stints in the States thrown in for good measure. His work has taken him from Scandinavia to Africa, working alongside musical greats from Peter Tosh, to Paul McCartney in roles as diverse as journalism, A & R, music production, stage and tour management; there is possibly no entertainment industry related stone left unturned by Wadada.
To begin at the beginning, Wadada’s first bona_fide music industry job was with Bamboo Records the then European arm of the legendary Studio One Records, who brought the first ever reggae acts to perform in Europe.
Two years later Wadada joined Groundation Records, who were the leading reggae Company at the time. Here he was responsible for booking, promotions and tour management. Wadada recognised that rather than targeting an audience made up of purely reggae fans, rock n roll could also be a great vehicle, and so his acts performed alongside the likes of Billy Idle and the Clash, with one of his acts, The Cimarons performing at the Rolling Stones’ end of World Tour party.
It was during this time that he met the early & great Bob Marley & it was not through music, but by playing football with him at Wormwood Scrubs, London in the Shadow of the prison.
Throughout the late 70’s and early 80’s Wadada maintained his primary love of touring with acts, but the next big move came in the form of his role as Music Editor at the nation’s first black national distributed newspaper, The Voice, and its subsidiary magazine, Black Beat which launched in 1982. These were ground breaking times, and the Voice newspaper was literally the Voice of a generation, unchallenged for over a decade. It was here that Wadada interviewed all the musical greats, including all the leading reggae acts of the day, along with R&B greats like Curtis Mayfield, George Benson, Barry White.
In 1984 Wadada orchestrated the collaboration between the Cimarons and Paul McCartney. publishing company MPL who put out the Cimarons album, Reggaebility, and they also featured on the famous track Ebony & Ivory. It was here that Wadada met the late great Michael Jackson.
1987 saw Wadada yet again involved with another landmark project, this time as Stage Manager to the theatrical production by Flip Fraser “Black Heroes in the Hall of Fame”. The highly acclaimed musical was the first ever all black production to hit the West End, and for the first part of the 90’s toured the US and the Caribbean. The Production was honoured by the Mayors of Detroit & Chicgo, with the keys to the city’s.
At the end of that tour Wadada felt it was time to reconnect with Jamaica, and spent 3 years at Green Island Records where he was responsible for A & R, and served as Studio and Entertainment Manager, and then as Manager of the label and it’s artists.
However, during the mid 90’s Wadada took a break from the industry altogether, deciding to spend a little ‘family time’ in Canada, where he helped to run the family business.
Returning to the UK in time for the turn of the new millennium, Wadada’s focus again took a new turn. Viewing the UK through fresh eyes, Wadada immediately noticed the lack of facilities and opportunities for London’s youth. Recalling how music had been an inspiration to himself and others of his generation, Wadada went about creating an Arts centred youth projects, workshops and talent development in some of the most deprived areas of North West London. During this time Wadada also connected with the organisers of Serbia’s EXIT Festival, named by The Times newspaper as the best festival in the world, and has for the last 11 years been responsible for the artists on their Positive Vibrations reggae stage.
The booking agency is in many ways a return to the familiar for Wadada. This was the way in which his career started, and his love for artists, their development and progress has remained consistent over the years. As one of the revolutionary’s responsible for breaking reggae acts into the then mainstream University
College & European circuit in the 1970’s, it will be interesting to see where this next technologically forward thinking step will take him.