Odel Johnson shares his cultural home of St. Ann's parish with the likes of Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley and Burning Spear, all of whom have served as sources of great inspiration for this self taught drummer and songwriter.
The rhythmic journey began early for Odel, who started playing traditional Jamaican hand-drums for his family at the youthful age of seven. Odel's prodigious persistence on the kette drum in conjunction with his singing, poetry and story-telling in school lead an Elder (that most people in Tabernacle knew as Mass Grampa) to gift the young drummer with a handmade snare drum. From then on, there was no stopping him on the musical mission to "freementality."
In the drummie's seat for several years as part of the post-Tosh Fully Fullwood band, Odel learned a lot from this group that has backed some of reggae's most popular artists including Peter Tosh as the Word Sound Power band (which at that time had Santa Davis on drums.) The artist performed in countless sessions and played on many of Scientist's engineered stages--from this he learned the "science" that creates this new treatment to the time-honored tradition of the live-off-the-floor-recording technique.
At the young age of just 24 Odel would receive his first Juno for playing on, singing touring and helping to write Messenjah's award-winning album Catch The Vibe. As well as recording and touring with the Reggae Cowboys, Odel continued on the journey to freementality by emigrating to Los Angeles to join Fully Fullwood, the famous bass player best-known for his brilliant work with Peter Tosh. Together, they toured extensively and globally with Joe Higgs, Dennis Brown, Micheal Rose, the Mighty Diamonds, Andrew Tosh, Mikey Dread and Scientist to name but a few. The proximity to such talent served as musical inspiration, and Odel started to record songs for his album "Mind & Body Sold".
"Mind & Body Sold" is Odel's time to shine. Absent are any programmed drum portions--he performs live on all the drum parts on the recording except for percussion from Remi Kabaka (percussionist with Hugh Masekela, Steve Winwood, etc.) The tracks are written by Odel with contributions on two songs, "Mr. Iron Curtain Man" and "Jah Son," from Noel "Jafahda" Walcott III.
This record is a richly layered sonic experience complete with intricate horn patterns, lush gospel-influenced suppporting vocals, rock guitar fills and solos. It is fair to say with all due respect that this release is composed outside the confines of many contemporary reggae albums. It does not rely on remakes of vintage rhythms as a base nor does it attempt to rehash slogans or doctrine from spiritual teachings. What it does instead is embrace and exemplify the sonic vibe of the 70's by delivering superlative tracks, potent lyrical phrasing, and unique rebel poetry that as a sum of their parts are essential to the great reggae experience.
Reggae music historian Roger Steffens called "Mind & Body Sold": "One of the best roots albums of the year by anyone, anywhere!"
Odel's second full length album "Redemption" does it again: roots rock reggae with a rebel attitude. Harder than ever Odel delivers the message that Jah Love is true - and that those who know it will find their redemption.
"Redemption" features seasoned musicians Tony 'Rebeltone' Barrett on Guitar, Lynford 'LA' Allen on Bass, and Orville 'Wyz' Malcom on Keyboards who have now joined together alongside Odel to form the band The Govament. Also featured on the CD are vocalists Lorraine Reid, Dionee Willson and Glenn Ricketts.
Written and arranged by Odel and recorded live at Metalworks studio in Toronto by legendary engineer 'The Scientist', Redemption shines from beginning to end. From "Chronicles", a classic roots reggae track reminiscent of days past, to the hard-hitting, straight up rock on the feature track "Testify", mixed with a classic rock ballad on "Change", this album will satisfy a variety of musical tastes. Redemption is produced by Obelisk Music on Odel's label Ohm Grown Records and is available worldwide courtesy of Equal Distribution.
In 2003 Odel received an Order of Merit from the city of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia for musical performances raising funds for Hoete Tesfa, an Ethiopian street children foundation. In 2008 he performed 4 concerts in Israel raising awareness for the genocide in Darfur.