Tafari Watkis

Tafari Watkis was born in St. Andrew, Jamaica to Grace Brown and Lloyd Watkis. He spent his first five years of life in Bushy Park, Old Harbor (near the capital Kingston). As with most islanders, he developed a lifelong affinity for the joy, excitement and simplicity of Reggae music.  He immigrated to the United States at age eighteen. Having grown up in Jamaica and possessing this inbreed rhythm, Tafari was a quick study. He started paying attention to the details of the music he had heard all his life. The words, beats and spacing became important. Tafari said in an interview, “My heartbeat and the music became in sync. I can relate to reggae roots because of the substance, and the practical guidelines for life.” More so, he longed for the musical connection with his island home. Reggae offers a sense of oneness and bridges borders. This attitude of community and sharing had defined his childhood. Tafari picked up the bass in the summer of 2007, with his dad as his first instructor. He gravitated to the bass because it is the ‘pounding heartbeat’ of Reggae. “No Man is an Island” was the first song he tried. 

Tafari joined his first band, Kingston 13 in the spring of 2009, as bass player and vocalist. He quickly rose to a professional standard and was affectionately given the name ‘Specialist’ by fellow band mates. He debuted professional with the band at The Dub Club in Los Angeles, California. They backed world renowned act “Michigan and Smiley” and it was a resounding success. He has also played for international reggae artists such as: Andrew Bees of the group Black Uhuru, Garth Dennis of Wailing Soul, international reggae star Daddy Roots of Anguilla, Jahmark and the Soulshakers, and lead singer of the wailers, Yvad. Within a few years he progressed into a well-rounded bass vocalist. d

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