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Photo by: Fally Afani/I Heart Local Music – Original article posted at: by Caleigh Cross

The Wailers come to Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center Sunday at 6 p.m. for what lead singer Josh David Barrett hopes will be a uniting spiritual experience.

This Sunday, the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center audience is in for a spiritual evening with The Wailers.

The band, formed by reggae icon Bob Marley in 1963, has carried on the sounds and traditions of Jamaican reggae and ska music, as Marley requested before he died in 1981.

Family ties to the original Wailers are strong. Aston Barrett Jr. — son of Aston “Family Man” Barrett, the original band’s bassist — is the band’s musical director and drummer. Family Man joins the group on bass when he has the time.

Backup singer Shema McGregor is the daughter of original backup singer Judy Mowatt.

The Wailers’ lead singer, Josh David Barrett, is a cousin to Family Man, and took a few minutes last Friday — right before a show in Miami — to talk about the band’s visit to Stowe.

In Vermont, “it’s always a beautiful energy, despite the cold,” Barrett said. “We always have a good time.”

Barrett was born in New Jersey, but speaks with a Jamaican accent as thick as honey.

Family is the most important thing for The Wailers, Barrett said. He views everyone as part of one big family.

“Humanity comes from one place, one mother,” he said, and music unites those common threads and ties them back together.

He found out he was related to Family Man Barrett at age 14, when he was getting into reggae music and learning to play bass in his church band.

“It was a uniting factor for me, finding my place in this time as one of those ancient men, and come to do Jah works in this time,” Barrett said.

He says the Spruce Peak crowd will hear music from “the golden age” of Bob Marley and The Wailers, and get “a sneak peek” into new music the group has been working on.

The band has worked through a rotation of membership, bringing new energy in, Barrett said.

“We want to capture that vibe now and add that to what we’ve been working on. I want to say that this music is also a mystical music, because Wailers music is music for the people. We hope always the message is relevant,” he said.

One song, “Stand Firm,” was written just before the far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August, where Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when she was run over protesting racism.

“There’s a need for this, and there’s a cry of the people that must be heard. Those who are in power and have the power to change must work for that change and stop the divisive tactics,” Barrett said.

Barrett hopes to see an end to racism and political unrest in his lifetime.

“I pray so. We’re working toward it every day. If not, may the generation coming onward carry it until completion,” he said.

Barrett wants everyone to bring positive energy to Sunday night’s show — but “even if you have a negative energy, we hope to uplift that. When you leave out of a Wailers concert, it is a spiritual experience as well as a natural one, where you’re dancing and moving, but we hope your soul is set free,” he said. “We’re going to jam it in the name of the Lord. … We hope you will take that love and invite a friend and bring them next time.”

Music is a spiritual uniting force, and Barrett hopes people leave the Wailers’ show as one big family.

“Those who love truth, those who love justice and hate aggression, you will find lean farther toward music,” he said. “That is what we aspire to every night. We never want days without that grace of the Most High that makes us singers and players of instruments as one. That is the essence.”

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