John Orpheus is a culturally diverse music artist and published author whose musical journey has taken him from the Caribbean bush to North American festivals to opening for Liam Gallagher on a UK tour. Born and raised in South-Central Trinidad and now based in Toronto, he combines hip-hop swagger, Afrobeat energy and dancehall charisma to create a sound built on big catchy hooks. John is known for his rabble-rousing live shows filled with audience participation, chanting and impromptu dance-offs that feel more like Caribana road parties than concerts.
Released two years ago and co-produced by Mike Schlosser, the 10-track album SAGA BOY is John Orpheus’s aural accompaniment to his literary memoir Saga Boy: My Life of Blackness and Becoming (Penguin Random House Canada). Both the book and the album explore the same themes: searching for home, family, love – and a fly coat to wear when you get there! The album’s standout single “Fela Awoke (I Will Miss You)” finds Orpheus paying tribute to Fela Kuti, Bob Marley and his own grandmother by setting to music their stories of hope, history and Black resilience. John says, “This song means everything to me. It tells a deeply personal story and it’s reaching for something more profound than I’ve ever tried to say in a song.”
John Orpheus is truly a ‘Renaissance man,’ who turns to Shakespeare’s Henry V to explain the difference between Saga Boy the album and Saga Boy the book: “Henry has this great line that basically means ‘They judge me by my younger days, but not by what use I’ve made of them.’ Saga Boy the book is about my younger days. The album is about the use I’ve made of them, the man I’ve become because of that journey, my healing and my celebration of that.”