About Us

Yussef Ahmed

Yussef Ahmed is a poet, musician and cultural activist who has been on the cutting edge of literature & music, bridging the gap and making the art form more accessible to a wider audience.

His nation wide performances have been varied with headline performances at various clubs, art centres and out door events such as Cheltenham Literature Festival and as far afield as the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Sharing the stage with the likes of Mutabaruka, Benjamin Zephaniah, Youssou N 'Dour and Gabriel with his unique style of social commentary fused with urban grooves

London born of Trinidadian parents. Yussef is dubbed as a Musical poet extraordinaire because of his uniqueness as a performer steams from his ability to captivate an audience through a stunning delivery of his perspective and often wry lyrics, which covers a range of subjects on the poetic licences that he now endorses.

Yussef's eloquence and dexterity leaves you with a feeling of unity and happiness as his poems successfully dances from the page to the stage.

Along with his band their performances are infamous for building to a frantic Crescendo, vowing to induce sensations which mobilize all senses.

Yussef has produced four full length albums 'Love Of Life' (2001), 'Against All Odds' (2004), 'Rejuvenation' (2006) 'Totally Life' (2009) and 'Circles' (2013) on his own label Hilal On Wax.

Yussef has also worked with various producers, most notably Paul Brook (who worked with the likes of Coldcut) and currently with Paul Hauton (who worked with the likes of Steel Pulse).

Yussef's poem 'For No One' and lyrics on 'New World' and 'Go Boy' has been recorded by the widely acclaimed group Zap Mama. His music has also been featured on an award winning documentary by Hal Aqah Press entitled 'Five Hundred Years Later.

His extensive touring has fulfilled engagements throughout the UK and main land Europe, which has led to his performances being broadcast on the national media.

According to Yussef Ahmed "we make music to keep your feet moving and your mind working, hence there will always be meaningful lyrics copulated with organic grooves from the soul of the diaspora". .

"A unique talent, a poet and lyricist with a rare gift for satire and celebration".

(National Poetry secretariat)

'''A man with a compelling story to tell. His poetry & music gets you thinking about freedom, peace and the way we live

with each other''.

Chris Highton (Senior BBC Broadcast Journalist)


The Band

Mel Jones - Guitar and Backing vocals

Mel is an experienced session musician who has worked with numerous Bands and Artists in the Midlands area before choosing to regularly perform with Yussef Ahmed.

Mel is the Musical Director of the Band and has performed with Yussef on all of his tours and is featured on all 3 Yussef albums. He is looking forward to completing work on the 4th album and to the start of the UK tour later in the year.

The thing that drives and continues to excite Mel about working with Yussef and the rest of the band is the unique use of hard-edged urban grooves set to part political manifesto, part spiritual testament.

Mel has also created many domestically produced albums of instrumental guitar pieces.Within these pieces Mel uses the guitar to paint musical pictures with soundscapes that convey imagery set to a backdrop of provocative titles.
Mel is a studio musician and is also part of the duo 'Intrigue in Tangiers' and has released several albums.

Mel says his trade is as a Riffsmith, this also being the name used for his solo projects and when performing his own material.

 

Shaz Akira - Backing vocalist

For the last 10 years Shaz Akira has been performng and touring in and around the musical globe worldwide, appearing at festivals, clubs, universities and theatres as well as making numerous TV appearances. her voice is distinctive, as is her talent for singing and song writing. She projects herself well on stage and is an energetic live performer who can adapt her voice to suit any genre of music. Shaz Akira has and is motivation, whch makes her a formidable and vivacious character giving positive inspiration to her audience worldwide.

Her own genre of music is influenced by a combination of Reggae, Soul, jazz, rock and Blues, which she calls 'Reggae Fuse', hence her reason for working alongside Yussef Ahmed and the band. The musical grooves that the band produces intertwining with Yussef' superb lyrical content of real to realness is sheer brilliance and Shaz Akira loves nothing more then being apart of that rich organic creative energy. Shaz currently spends a lot of her time between the UK and Ethiopia working with charities.

Shaz Akira keeping it real and keeping it live...

 

 

Paul Beckford - Bass

Born in Handsworth, at Heathfield Road Hospital on 01 February, Paul attended Westminster Infant/Junior school.  He then went to Holte Secondary school, and it is during those years, at age 13, that he developed an interest in music from sound systems and  discovered his musical talent.

Paul started playing music aged 14 with a Handsworth band called ‘Senator’.  He was recruited as the drummer and the band’s first gig was at Holyhead School, with their own make shift back line.  They played 4 instrumentals of which ‘East of the River Nile’ an original Augustus Pablo composition.  The crowd went absolutely crazy.  Paul was then pushed into playing the bass guitar when a friend joined the band and decided that he was the drummer.  He stayed with the band until his last year at college.  The band then split up but Paul continued playing as session musician.

Whilst working as a session musician, Paul joined a band called Hey Citizen and it is during that time that he was noticed by Mark Rogers of Hollywood Beyond.  This was the beginning of his playing alternative music to reggae, more precisely Jazz and pop music.  He remained with Hollywood Beyond for 3 years and recorded the hit song ‘What’s The Colour of Money’.

After his time with Hollywood Beyond, Paul went back to working as a session musician and joined Burning Spear with who he remained for 10 years.  He toured the world and recorded many hits of which ‘Mek We Dweet’, ‘Jah Kingdom’, ‘Love & Peace’ (Live) and ‘World Should Know’ to name but a few.

Paul took a short break from music and touring until he met up with Basil Gabbidon (formerly of Steel Pulse) in 2003.  Heads buzzing, fingers itching, something had to happen and Paul joined the Gabbidon band in 2004.  With the same vision and passion, the partnership developed strongly and together they produced the sensational Reggae Rockz album.  Paul is a session musician and also the newest contributor to Yussef's band and performed at the Circles CD launch. He is currently recording new ideas with Yussef.

Tony Jones - Drums