b. c.1966, London, England. Only the second prominent black Irish musician (he grew up in Craigavon, Northern Ireland) to come to mainstream attention following Phil Lynott, Martin Okasili set about making amends by titling his debut album The Invisible History Of The Black Celt. As he says, ‘Being black (there) meant that I was a complete outsider. The nationalist and loyalist communities are so polarised and have invested so much in their own cultures that there’s very little room for people who don’t fit in a neat pigeonhole.’ He was signed by WEA Records’ A&R general manager Mickey D in 1996 after first seeing him two years earlier. He made his debut with the single, ‘Survival Technique’, which like his debut album was released in July. Both revealed an artist coming to terms with his roots, the album in particular moving from wild soul to rock and traditional Celtic folk. The most important component, however, was Okasili’s resonant lyrics, establishing a storytelling approach to his ideas which managed to convey both maturity and passion.
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