Respect | Army

Irie Magazine World Reggae Edition - December 2015 - Respect - Army


Army (Fritzmaurice Williams) was born and raised on St. Croix, Virgin Islands. He began his musical journey at the age of five as a member of the youth choir at the church his family attended. Little did he know that he was laying the foundation for what would become a very promising musical career. Determined to explore a variety of styles, he learned to play the saxophone, became a member of a jazz band and sang in various local bands. After relocating to the New York City, completing his education, and serving in the US Army (which is how he got his name), Army returned home and became deeply involved in the local reggae scene.

In the early 70’s, Jamaica was bubbling with an incredible amount of untapped musical and vocal talents. That same level of energy, enthusiasm and potential is present today in the Virgin Island of St. Croix. Army is to be counted among the many conscious singers and players of instruments from St. Croix who are worthy of international recognition. The voice of Army first surfaced several years ago on the famously vital (though obscure) compilation “Eastbound”. Soon after, Army contributed several selections to the “Homegrown” compilation album. In 2000, Army’s first album -”Yesterday’s News” – was released on Glamorous Records, with production provided by Dean Pond. In 2002, Army linked up with Dub Rise Records who released his second album, “Struggler”, along with a re-release of “Yesterday’s News.” 2003 saw Army releasing the single “Calling Jah Army”, a powerful duet with Luciano. In 2004 Army went on to tour the U.S. stopping DC, VA, NC, CO, NM, CA, OR, WA and capping off in the Hawaiian islands repeating this with Igrade Records in 2005.
With this solid foundation of tunes under his belt, Army embarked on the recording of his highly anticipated third album, “Rasta Awake.” Largely produced by legendary guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Tuff Lion (of Bambu Station), ”Rasta Awake” is a masterpiece of all-live instrumentation roots reggae. The 13 tracks on the album capture Army at previously unseen creative heights. His poetic songwriting challenges and connects with the listener in a way that few other songwriters are able. Army’s voice – while influenced by such artists as Nat King Cole, Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor – is unique in all of contemporary reggae with its amazing ability to be both deeply soothing and intensely energizing.
Army then relocated to Ca in 2007 and went on to release yet another album with the legendary guitarist Tuff Lion entitled Zion solders chant. Army has since had the good fortune to return to the mother land performing shows in Senegal& Gambia along side VI artist Abja and Satta Sound system from Vermont. Army has worked alongside many main stream artist like Luciano, Sizzla, Junior Reid, Kimani Marley to name a few, from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the east coast, middle America and in the West. Army has played on the San Diego Bob Marley fest, the SNWMF, Reggae on the river, Garborville Ca and at Streamboat Co and keeps adding to his portfolio.  His latest musical rendition Dredlocks, time is his crowning achievements having done production on the album and being it’s executive producer. He is currently working on another album to be released in 2016 and is in collaboration with artist in Brazil, France and Sweden.
With a voice as invigorating and free as the wind, and with word sound utterances that penetrate hearts and minds, Army’s mission is clear. He is firmly committed to using his music as a weapon in the war for spiritual renewal and justice for all peoples. As Army describes: “I want to send positive universal messages to people through my music, without the commercialism we see so much today… For me the music is a healing. I feel that the music healed me, took me to places where I could have not necessarily have been without it. I also feel that if someone could walk away with some type of healing, (that) they could be touched in some kind of way, they could associate themselves with some aspect of the music and then say ‘wow,’ maybe I’ll make it after all. If I could shine some light some how, I would know that I have done something.” Army continues to do something special for all those with ears to hear this unique and much-needed voice.

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