Jah9 is a Rastafarian singer/songwriter/activist whose music is a unique blend of jazz and dub. She has been credited as the creator of the Jazz on Dub genre. Her vocals blend the Jazz melodies of Billie Holiday and Nina Simone with the Dancehall attack of Sizzla Kalongi above the heavy Dub rhythm akin to Augustus Pablo.
Meet Janine “Jah9” Cunningham. Here in Falmouth, we knew her as Pastor Cunningham’s daughter. Jah9’s dad was then the well known pastor of the local William Knibb Baptist Church. Janine was born in Montego Bay, but spent her first 8 1/2 years in Falmouth. The family lived in the then Baptist Manse at the corner of Cornwall and Newton Streets (now an auto parts store).
Her journey into Rastafarianism began after her father moved to Kingston to work as a high school chaplain. She met some Rastafarian friends on campus in University and that was how she received the doctrine. She then fittingly adopted the name of Jah9, which she received while living in Falmouth.
Her brother Ryan, was more well known in Falmouth at the time the Cunninghams were living in Falmouth. He was a student of William Knibb. He died of leukemia. It was for this reason that Jah9 became a strong advocate for the use of medicinal marijuana. Speaking to the Gleaner on June 10, 2014, Jah9 stated that her interest in the issue is personal. When she was nine, her brother Ryan died of leukaemia, sparking her interest in the medicinal properties of marijuana.
“There are many people, in Jamaica in particular, who suffer from a set of diseases that plague people on this side of the world. Herb is medicine and we should capitalise on its use,” she told the Gleaner.
Jah9 now has a heavy international presence and is a regular on the European circuit. Her debut album, “New Name” made her a force to be reckoned with in the reggae industry.
Like most of us from this small western Jamaica town of Falmouth, the roosts singer is proud of her roots and lists her hometown as Falmouth, Trelawny.
You can learn more about Janine “Jah9” Cunningham by visiting her website.