The story of Jah9’s rise, is a triumphant melody stretching through time, acting on the ears of the present, calling spirits to the past, and heralding visions of the future. She emerged from the chrysalis of poetry, dub and spirit to become a powerful femiNINE energy within a universal grassroots movement of consciousness happening in Jamaica. Inspired by the open spaces in the instrumental dub of 1970’s Jamaican roots music, Jah9 sings with a voice that belies the dimensions of her physical body. She sings from a soul much older than its vessel; “reminiscent of that darkly operatic wailer for truth & justice, Nina Simone.” Her core philosophy is balance, which she delivers through her own, distinct Jazz on Dub style. Born Janine Cunningham, Jah9 spent the first 9 years of her life in Falmouth, Trelawny, on the western edge of Jamaica before moving into the city of Kingston, in 1991.
This country girl, accustomed to the idyllic Falmouth where everyone knew each other, was all too suddenly plunged into the chaos of Jamaica’s capital city. Highly sensitive to her surroundings, she ventured inward and found an outlet for her feelings in the words that she wrote. Growing up in a conscious family with a preacher for a father and a social worker for a mother, Janine became aware of the injustices in the world very early. However, it was not until she started the University of the West Indies that she would embark on a pivotal journey to find her true voice. There she would gather with fellow socially conscious Rastafari brethren by a fire, to steam herbs and reason for long hours. Her heart was opened to the teachings of Haile Selassie I and her ears opened to the hypnotic bass in the heavy dub rhythms of roots reggae. Janine eventually embraced her childhood nickname, Jah9, as she learnt the significance of the word “Jah” and the number “9”. A staple on Jamaica’s underground poetry scene by 2009,she found a place where her words could live in instrumental dub, and the songs she started to write found eager encouragement.
Jah9 began recording with renowned keyboardist and flutist Sheldon Bernard, when her demos caught the attention of the legendary Beres Hammond, who later helped her to develop her recording technique. She then teamed up with popular producer Donovan Bennett of Don Corleon Records to release her first 2 singles “Warning” and “Keep Holding Down” in late 2010. Her focus and determination eventually culminated in the release of her debut album entitled “New Name”, a homage to her personal spiritual journey produced by pioneer dancehall selector and roots producer Rory ‘Stone Love’ Gilligan. Voted album of the year by AchisReggae.com, “New Name” has been described as “quite simply, the superb sum of its parts: a straight cultural roots album” by United Reggae’s Angus Taylor. With hit singles such “Avocado”, “New Name” and “Legitimate”, Jah9’s debut album stunned the musical space. Since 2013, Jah9 has performed on the main stage with her band ‘The Dub Treatment’ at major European and US reggae festivals.
Described as “black magic”and “possessing a chilling yet bewitching vibrato evoking a young Ella Fitzgerald and a rootsy coolness à la Erykah Badu” her dub-filled live performances elevates the mental and invokes the spiritual. A certified yoga instructor trained in; Kemetic, Ashtanga and Iyengar methods, Jah9 has been known to compel her audiences to pause, and breathe deeply during her live performances. As a way to intimately engage with her fan base, she also curates an organic rhythm-based yoga experience she called ‘Yoga on Dub’. Jah9 is rooted in her African heritage and driven by a will to serve her people. In 2015, while on tour in Italy and Malta she engaged with African refugees, sharing with them insights about the new environment they would face, natural wellness, and even yoga/breathing as a healing therapy for their trauma. Jah9’s words are a reflection of the life she has constructed. Known for her nation building and community activism, Jah9 has been heavily involved in youth development work. She has helped to develop programs for at-risk youth in Kingston, helped to create the of “Healing of the Nation” public awareness campaign and co-created of the non-profit youth and arts advocacy group known as Manifesto JA in 2005. In 2016, the Universal year of 9 [2+0+1+6], Jah9 is established and recognized as a formidable lyricist and revolutionary force; and now shifts her attention to unveiling a deeper more personal deployment of her ‘Jazz on Dub’ sound. Empowered by her femiNINE–that which is found in the symbolism of 9, the symbol of creation and womb of the universe–Jah9 released her sophomore album divinely-entitled ‘9’ on September 9th, 2016, to critical acclaim. Boasting hits such as “Humble Mi”, “Hardcore” and “Natural Vibe”, 9’s potency remained unquestioned. This second installment in her musical legacy has cemented her niche within the industry as a lifestyle artist. Jah9 continues to build on her foundation as she tours the world spreading the message of her music, all the while compiling and curating the pieces for her upcoming album to be announced later this year.