Ema is a "Jersey" guy and his roots are undeniably and unflinchingly rock. But his music bespeaks a more prismatic career trajectory - one propelled by a deep immersion into the musically rich cultures of South Africa, an irrepressible creative energy in the studio, formal training in anthropology and a continuous absorption of music from around the world. Ema is one of those artists whose unique musical identity defies the confines of simple categorization as he smudges the boundaries of culture, genre and time.
Yes, he's a "Jersey" guy, but he's also a "Jozi" guy. Yes he's a rocker, but he's also a "world-rocker" and he is equally at home "clicking" in a traditional Xhosa song with the Ngqoko Women's Group in rural South Africa as he is unleashing a scorching "Strat" solo before a fever-pitched crowd at Mexico's renowned Olin Kan World Music Festival. But Ema is most at home when he's combining these seemingly disparate cultural elements to create music that is all at once, arrestingly unique and magically universal. His trademark cross-pollinating style has earned him the endearing Zulu title of Mthakathi (the Wizard) by his South African peers and his music, as one ardent fan puts it, is "like world music on jet fuel!"
With the release of his ground-breaking debut solo album "Ownership", Ema expands the world fusion movement into the realm of world rock. "Ownership" is comprised of 12 songs with striking "ethno-sonic" landscapes that complement Ema's unapologetic, thought-provoking lyrics and distinctive voice. Whether the stories are of introspective exploration or critical social observation, every song is a dramatic multi-culti blend, draped in lush South African vocals and turbo-charged with searing guitar solos, soaring sax rides and dizzying percussion beds.
Supporting Ema on "Ownership" is a host of veteran African and American musicians who have logged in touring and recording stints with artists ranging from rock legends Paul Simon, Sting and the Rolling Stones to South African luminaries Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and Johnny Clegg.
With its combination of carefully crafted rock arrangements, vibrant African elements, magnetic story-telling and a stellar lineup, "Ownership" stands as a magnificent new bridge between rock and world music; indeed, that bridge's keeper is Ema.