Emmanuel Selassie

Love Your Local Band: Emmanuel Selassie

Emmanuel Selassie plays Flynn’s Cabaret in Felton on Friday, July 27.

When reggae musician Emmanuel Selassie moved to Berkeley in 1993, it wasn’t long before friends told him about Santa Cruz. With his deep love for reggae and spiritualism—he’s a Rastafarian—and his laid-back demeanor, it was a no-brainer. He was made for Santa Cruz. He’s been here ever since.

“Everyone was like, ‘we know where you’re going to fit in, you’re going to be fine in Santa Cruz,’” he says.

Originally from North Carolina, Selassie started playing music in the early ’80s, and reggae by the late ’80s. He released his first album, ESI, in 1996.

His music is driven by his commitment to Rastafarianism, so much so that even his name Emmanuel Selassie—his spiritual name—means “God with us and the power of the trinity.”

“I think all creation is some sort of praise for emulating the Creator. And we’re making our own creation in the image of God. Everything I create is inspiration from the creator,” Selassie says.

In addition to playing reggae music, he also has a jazz-fusion combo called Blood Relatives, does sound engineering for bands at Pine Forest Studio in Aptos, and works at Flynn’s Cabaret as the chief audio engineer. He also plays in other bands as the hired gun on occasion, a job he particularly enjoys.

All of this explains why he only sporadically releases reggae albums. His fourth, The Ego or the I, is nearly finished. He hopes to have it released later this year, roughly October. 

INFO: 8 p.m. Friday, July 27. Flynn’s Cabaret, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. $15. 335-2800.

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