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In Celebration of Charles Jikki Riley
January 10, 1946 - March 24, 2003

Atlanta, Georgia

Charles Jikki Riley
Charles Jikki Riley
In Motion Magazine is very sad to report the death of Charles Jikki Riley -- a wonderful human being, the husband of our co-editor Alice Lovelace, and a great friend and supporter of this publication. As a tribute to Jikki, here are some passages from the program celebrating his life. -- Nic Paget-Clarke, publisher.

Celebrating the Life of Charles "Jikki" Riley

Charles "Jikki" Riley was a Vietnam veteran of the 101st Airborne, filmmaker, veteran activist in the national and international black liberation movement, poet, singer and songwriter for the popular reggae bands One Drop Plus and later Jikki and the Stonefish Posse.

In My Own Words

I remember my earliest call to music, as a kid watching Sammy Davis, Jr. dance, sing and play drums on the Ed Sullivan Show. That, along with having my mother and father enroll my cousin and me in a ballet and tap dancing class, fueled my desire. By thirteen I was singing both in church and in a street corner Do-Wop group The Bel-Angels, a young group that rose to opening for acts like Dee (Raindrops) Clark and the Miracles.

My travels in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean contributed greatly to my influences in both music and the arts. I traveled extensively, living in Amsterdam and performing with “Soulca” in Paris, Nigeria and Jamaica.

Since then I have written and published two books of urban poetry, filmed and directed four documentaries and two 16mm movies, taught both film and video to under privileged children, wrote, directed and produced two plays and a musical, and exhibited my carvings (wood and ceramics) in library collections along with my photography exhibits. I have lectured elementary to university level students on subjects ranging from art to violence and film to African- American history and politics. I was co-writer for the first Black soap opera which was produced at WSB-TV and I helped to raise five children.

All of this is to say that in each endeavor music has never been far from my mind, so much so that in 1986 I gave myself over to the desire completely and started a reggae band One Drop Plus and my current band Jikki and the Stonefish Posse. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of opening for people like Toots and the Mytals, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, Eek-AMouse, Maxi Priest, the Killer Bees, Sister Carol, Aswad, Burning Spear, Yellow Man, Bad Brains, Arrow, O.J. Ekomoja, Third World, and Soweto.

In 1991 I performed my original song Babylon’s Trophy in the ABC mini-series ‘Stay the Night’ and the New South Music Showcase named One Drop Plus the Best Band in the Southwest Region.

Since arriving in Atlanta in 1976 I have worked to aid in developing the International spirit of the city and serving the Atlanta community. I have volunteered my service as a poet, photographer, singer and bandleader to many worthy causes.

-- Charles “Jikki” Riley

All that is / Jikki
(In Memoriam)

This mountain of a man was a
magical musical man
With rhythms halo-ing his strong spirit
Washing his face with an owning smile
Standing, like he did, like a herdsman in a city place
Striding like a champion lauded for the game
He kept record of alice and love
And family and close ones
On lips that spoke their names
And eyes that let them in
And memory that made them his
As he was theirs
This mountain of a man was/is/will be
a magical musical man
A deep rumbling sweetness like molasses from the core
Of the earth
Springs forth when we think of him
Offering strength to our now days/our quiet days
Our reflective days
Our questioning days
But we will abide with him
In our memories and in our lives
As sunshine finds it way in again
As hope reaches up to tree tops again
As new visions, new songs enfold us again
Because he will be a part of all that is new
All that is /Jikki

-- C. 2003 Ja A. Jahannes

Published in in Motion Magazine, April 9, 2003

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