Paul “Osisi” Samms is the former front man for St. John reggae sensation, Inner Visions. He rocked the mic for over twenty years and now is settling into new musical frontiers with his album “Chapter One: A Time To Love.” St. John Tradewinds’, Miss Ingrid, sat down with Osisi, also known as Ras Paul, and discussed St. John, music, and food.
Ras Paul, is that the name you go by?
No, that is the name that was given to me when I was in my first organization.
Your first organization in music?
Yes. Like Inner Visions, all of a sudden they just started calling me Ras Paul. I was in Boston years ago, and I met two tribesmen from the Yoruba tribe so I asked them to initiate me a name. I wanted to be named for a thing. They give me the name Osisi. I would eventually like to forget about “Ras Paul” and go by Osisi. Some of the band members call me that. It’s the name I really like. It means tree, you know. It’s on my CD, Paul Osisi or Ras Paul, with Blood Fire Productions.
So you have new music out! What’s the name of the CD?
It’s registered under as “Chapter One” but I am calling it “Time To Love”, there is always time to love. We don’t have enough of that. Everybody has time for fighting, violence. There is always time to love.
How long have you been on St. John?
I’ve been on St. John since 1983.
What brought you to St. John?
I actually connect from Portland, Maine. I used to be a merchant marine. Carry oil back and forth and I had my son. I decided to come to Boston and met some musicians from Berkeley and started a little thing. There were two players from St. Thomas. I asked them about what’s going on with St. Thomas because I was preparing to go back home.
And where is home?
Originally I’m from Jamaica. I prayed to God he would take me out of the cold weather and I that I never go back there. I’ve been following the sun ever since. (laughter) So, I asked them about St. Thomas. They said it’s hot and sunny so I say okay, I came down to St. Thomas and stayed with them. I stayed about two weeks in St. Thomas and everyday I kept coming to St. John. As soon as I got a job on St. John, that was it. I stayed right here because it reminds me of home, right in Jamaica. That’s where I am right now. It’s nice. People get along good. I met my wife here, Laura, and we’ve been married in August for nineteen years.
Before you were lead vocalist for Inner Visions?
Yes, one of them.
Did you play as well?
Yes, percussion and I wrote, arranged all the stuff that I sing.
How long were you with Inner Visions?
Over twenty five years.
What is one experience playing and touring with Inner Visions that sticks out in your mind?
Europe. Tell me about Europe.
We went all over the place. We went through Amsterdam, Germany. We went through the areas of Belgium. All around the area concerts were beautiful. That was my best experience. Everything I do musically I would say that it was something that I was looking forward to. I sat and said this is what I would like to accomplish musically. I would like to hear my record on the radio, I would like to do something on TV musically, and I’d like to play in a band and go to Europe. So far I’ve done everything that I set out to do, musically. Everything else is extra. I done accomplish what I set out do as far as music is concerned.
How did you get hooked up with Inner Visions?
That’s another story. I went to Key West and started a band called The Survivors. They are still there playing tunes. I came down to St. John with my credentials and I went to Africa Roots which is now Cool Sessions and I showed them my credentials. Oh, they don’t want no rasta man, I didn’t tell them I was a rasta man but okay. So I went to Inner Visions, their name was Prophecy then. I went to them and said well you know, this is me. One of the guys, I won’t call names, said they didn’t want me. I went to that band three times, twice they kicked me out. The last time I went the person who said they didn’t want me wasn’t there. That was they only way I got in. If he was there I would have never. I been with them ever since 2000 or something. Let me say, irreconcilable differences, I leave and here I am. Did my CD and I am making my own organization too. Blood At The Roots, that’s the name which it will be later on. Here I am getting there. I hooked up with some people, and we got a new organization coming out soon, Splendid Company.
So you are still performing?
Yes, because it’s in my blood. I want to be on stage singing and I’m right on stage with a big smile on my face. Doing what I love to do. Perfect way to go for me.
Well it’s been a pleasure catching up with you, Osisi. Last question, what’s your favorite food?
What’s my favorite food? [laughter]
Oh man, I have so many favorite foods [laughter]. What is one that I like? Oh man, I got food that people might not understand. I call it Bami. Ackee, which grow here.
Ackee grows on St. John?
Yeah, St. John got ackee tree.
So you got bami, what’s bami?
It’s like what they would call cassava bread.
Okay, Cassava Bread.
Right. One of my favorite drinks is chocolate tea. Real chocolate tea that comes from St. Lucia. That you just [motions with hands] grate it right down put your real coconut milk in it, cinnamon, nutmeg and bay leaf a little thing and draw it. But I have so many favorite food I can’t just pick one.
What about ribs, you like ribs?
[laughter] I don’t eat any flesh. No meat, no nothing. I stay away from the dairy and no eggs. If I do bread, very little but if I do it I toast it, well toast it to kill some of it. Because I’m trying to stay away, let me put it this way, I try and stay away from the mucus food. Like the rice, potato, anything that uses white flour. I experimented with Professor Eric’s teachings and it worked for me, like fasting and so forth. I do a lot of fasting and work out. Anybody that fast can get sick though. I am not saying but right now I’m just trying to do what I can do. I want to play music some more. Do what I love to do.
Ras Osisi Paul’s CD “Chapter One: A Time To Love” cost $10. To purchase, please mail payment and letter to P.O. Box 1351 St. John, USVI 00831.