“Reggae is like a palette to paint whatever you want. It’s a rhythm created in Jamaica that is open to having many flavors of sound painted on top of it” says Rusty Zinn. Many years ago, the California born singer/songwriter discovered and nurtured a deep love for the many Jamaican musical genres that flourished over the decades. He embraced them in all of their forms of Ska, Rock Steady, Reggae onward and even met and befriended some of the most important exponents and pioneering architects of these Jamaican musical styles over the years. Many of these Jamaican musical heroes and friends of Rusty have served as mentors in the music to him.
2006 saw the release of “ReggaeBlue” which had backing from Tony Chin, Fully Fullwood, and Santa Davis from the legendary Jamaican outfit, the Soul Syndicate. “ReggaeBlue” received many great accolades and reviews from Reggae critics and gained the attention of Marcia Higgs, daughter of “The Godfather Of Reggae, Joe Higgs, who served as a mentor and vocal coach to the young Bob Marley and The Wailers. Marcia organized shows for Rusty in the summer of 2007 in the Boston area which were received in wonderful fashion from the local West Indian scene there. So, Rusty was starting the beginning of a journey that would soon lead him to make a pilgrimage to the land of his most beloved music, Jamaica.
Fast forward to Jamaica in 2009 and there was Rusty experiencing the realization of a dream by recording a full length project with a legendary group of Jamaican musicians. His friend, the great Jamaican Lovers Rock singer, Barry Biggs lined up the Mixing Lab studio in Kingston to lay down new tracks. Barry and Rusty’s mutual friend, Mikey “Mao” Chung arranged the session and of course played guitars as well. Mikey provided excellent backing from bass and drums luminaries Boris Gardiner and Sly Dunbar. Legendary keyboard man Robbie Lyn was called in for piano/organ duties and the late Scully Simms added his percussion spice throughout the session.
When Rusty returned from his trip to record in Jamaica, he performed at the world famous Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, promoted by Reggae music entrepreneur, Warren Smith who was amazed by Rusty’s performance. Sly Dunbar did take such a shine to Rusty’s voice upon hearing him sing in Jamaica that he asked him to voice two songs for the Jamaica’s legendary “Riddim Twins”, Sly and Robbie. This yielded both “You’re The One” and “Wear A Crown”, with the latter title becoming a massive singalong anthem with a big sound system in the North of Britain. In 2010, Rusty was asked to return to the Sierra Nevada Music Festival where he participated in a specially organized “Soul Syndicate and Friends” set alongside Earl Zero and Lloyd Hemmings. Once again Rusty was very well received and then a month later was even more well received when he made a big splash at the Beaches International Jazz Festival in Toronto, Canada. He was so well loved by the huge West Indian musical community there, that they changed his airline ticket and kept him a little longer to participate in a historical recording session featuring Jamaican Jazz guitar legend, Ernest Ranglin. In the fall that year, Rusty returned to Toronto to perform again.
In 2011, Rusty formed a band with one of his biggest mentors, the great Hux Brown who played guitar on countless Jamaican music classics by too many names to mention. With Hux taking over as band director for a spell, Rusty and his band enjoyed several shows in the San Francisco Bay Area. Hux influenced their sound greatly and brought in a more authentic early Reggae feel with a huge emphasis on the musical predecessor known as Rock Steady. With this lineup of musicians under tutelage from Hux, Rusty started recordings for what was to become “The Reggae Soul Of Rusty Zinn” ultimately released in 2015. Rusty took a break from those sessions to voice a song for producer Anthony Brightly who was also the keyboardist and founder of UK Roots Reggae pioneers, Black Slate. Through Anthony, Rusty found another dimension to his singing. On the track “Always Be My Baby," Rusty explored his passion for another beloved Reggae sub genre ultimately born in the U.K. called “Lovers Rock”. The results set him on a journey into the soul of Lovers Rock. “Always Be My Baby” opened up doors in radio for Rusty in London and throughout the U.K. Not too long after this, Sly Dunbar took it upon himself to send a self produced slice of bonafide Lovers Rock by Rusty called “Angie I Love You” to the UK Reggae DJ icon, David Rodigan who began featuring it on his BBC Radio One show followed by more of Rusty’s releases afterwards.
After the 2015 release of the critically acclaimed “The Reggae Soul Of Rusty Zinn”, Rusty concentrated on shows in the Bay Area with some of the highlights being an opening show for The Skatalites in Berkeley and several co-bills with The English Beat over the course of a year or more around the Bay Area. During this time he also concentrated on a collaboration project with Patrick Watson aka Dr. Watson in Canada. Patrick formed a band to back Rusty on a few different trips to British Columbia to back Rusty on shows while the two were working on a full length project. During this time Rusty performed in Victoria, B.C. at the prestigious Victoria Ska Festival. Patrick and Rusty released a few singles online as teasers to their “Rusty Zinn Meets Watson Unlimited: Spellbound” released at the end of 2018. There was also a music video for the title track “Spellbound”. In the beginning of 2017, Rusty collaborated with his friend Clinton Fearon from the legendary Gladiators who Rusty cites as a major influence and inspiration to his Reggae music. Alongside Clinton, Rusty was part of an acoustic Reggae trio which toured and performed in Alaska in the summer of that year.
In September of 2017 Rusty found that he had a gigantic fan base for his sweet Reggae sounds in Brazil with a hit song in “She Comes From Nothing” from “The Reggae Soul Of Rusty Zinn” CD. The song grew in the Reggae dancehalls of the north in Brazil, being played by numerous DJ’s even at dances that featured strictly Reggae from the 70’s and 80’s. By the early spring of the following year “She Comes From Nothing” rose to be the number one Reggae hit in Brazil. Since then, Rusty has enjoyed other hits in Brazil with more of his songs. Rusty’s music continues to spread even further south in Brazil in cities like Sao Paulo and Rio Di Janeiro. Rusty lived and performed in Brazil while staying there for three months in the spring and summer of 2019. His music and loving fan base continues to grow daily in Brazil and other corners of the globe. Rusty has a profound respect for Jamaican people and it’s music, food and culture and continues to sing and play with his own personal stamp while always tipping his hat to his teachers and idols. As Rusty says “I didn’t choose Reggae music, it chose me and I just want to push forward sharing my music for the world”. Rusty continues to explore Reggae and all of it’s glorious sub genres, especially the romantic sounds and stylings of Lovers Rock and Rock Steady in his own original compositions.