Photography by: Carla Henriques
More than two decades into a storied career, GROUNDATION returns this year with their 10th studio album, One Rock, scheduled for release on May 13, 2022.
The band, formed in 1998 by vocalist/guitarist Harrison Staford, has helped define American roots reggae while building a large and loyal following in Europe, South America, and the US, where they have been a consistent major headliner and festival attraction for the last 15 years.
The new album, One Rock, keeps their sound and legacy moving ever forward with nine powerful songs featuring complex arrangements, moving melodies, and lyrics that touch on the human condition, the human spirit, and the current state of the world.
GROUNDATION formed in 1998 when Staford started a roots reggae/jazz fusion group with fellow students at the Jazz Performance program at Sonoma State University. The group’s first two albums, Young Tree and Each One Teach One, established their unique roots sound while commencing the band’s long affiliation with foundational reggae artists. Each One Teach One features the vocalist Marcia Higgs and the Nyabinghi drumming master, Ras Michael. Staford’s interest and knowledge of the reggae genre led to him developing and offering a course he taught at Sonoma State called “The History of Reggae Music.” Among others, reggae legends like Joseph Hill of Culture and historical icons like Abba Melchezadek (Haile Selassie’s private secretary) came and shared their personal experiences with the classes.
In 1999, while in Jamaica, Harrison met the legendary engineer Jim Fox, who did extensive production and recording for RAS Records, including their most iconic releases. Subsequently, Fox re-mastered Young Tree and Each One Teach One, and he recorded and mixed Hebron Gate (2002), the album that launched Groundaton into international acclaim. Fox has continued working with GROUNDATION on their subsequent releases helping to shape their sound on We Free Again (2004), Upon The Bridge (2006), Here I Am (2009), Building An Ark (2012), and A Miracle (2014). Together they built a catalog of genre-bending, deep, progressive roots reggae music. GROUNDATION’s visual artwork has also had a consistent look and feel headed by Giovanni Maki, Staford’s childhood friend. Giovanni has created the album graphics and visual designs for GROUNDATION from the group’s inception.
GROUNDATION has performed in over 35 countries on five continents. They have had several personnel changes over the years, but with Harrison Staford at the helm, GROUNDATION continues to bring reggae into new worlds. Their last studio album, The Next Generation (2018), opens with a complete jazz big band (featuring 12 horn players). This album won Reggae.fr’s “Best Roots Reggae Album of 2018,”. This award was voted on by over 16,000 media members, musicians, producers, and fans.
GROUNDATION currently has extensive tour dates and festivals set up for the coming year in Europe, especially in France and South America. In May, GROUNDATION is scheduled to do a week and a half tour in Brazil, and in July, they have a month, and a half tour in Europe, followed by another month-long European tour in October 2022.
The journey continues as GROUNDATION spreads its words and music to the four corners of the world.