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Soul II Soul's Jazzie B delivers golden 'nuggets' to Wolverhampton Literature Festival

Few Brits can boast to have been good friends with soul legends Barry White and James Brown, but R'n'B star Jazzie B can.

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Jazzie B at Wolverhampton Literature Festival

A 'legend' in his own right, the star also known as the Funki Dred was quick to dismiss the tag during his well-received appearance at this year's Wolverhampton Literature Festival at the Newhampton Arts Centre, in Whitmore Reans.

Jazzie B

The Soul II Soul founder behind late 80s hits 'Keep on Movin' and 'Back to Life' along with album Club Classics Vol One, was in town to share "nuggets" as he described them, from his autobiography A Happy Face. A Thumpin’ Bass, For A Lovin’ Race.

The book's title takes its name from festival headliner Jazzie's long time motto.

Jazzie B, real name Trevor Romeo, said: "Legacy? Legend? That ain't the party that I'm trying to throw here. Legend is when you pass away. That's scary.

Jazzie B at Newhampton Arts Centre

"When you look at the whole idea of imperialism and the slavery system and so on, we thought what we were about was pretty simple. It was being the biggest sound system in the world."

"I just understood how to get on the journey a little bit quicker than other people," the producer, a former trainee teacher, explained.

And he said it was pleasing to see the next generation of stars such as Stormzy able to break through and make a name for themselves in the industry that was fraught with challenges for soul artists three decades ago when the names Soul II Soul and the Funki Dred burst onto the scene.

"To get recognition in America before we got recognition in the UK is something that really spurred us on.

"I spent a lot of time with James Brown who treated me like a son. I didn't have those types of conversations with my own dad. But we are the elders now, realising what we've achieved and what it takes to get to this point."

Now aged 60, he drew chuckles as he explained how his early days in the United States resulted in Barry White taking him under his wing when "I got a bit lost", to give him some good advice about returning home to London to work on his dream of setting up the world's biggest sound system - advice which he followed and went on to sell millions of records.

Jazzie B signing autographs with fan Emmanuel Lions

And the "rest as they say was history," Jazzie B added.

Priced at £50 the print signed limited edition hardback, tells the story of his rise from the sound system circuit and pirate radio to worldwide fame, Grammy awards and an OBE in 2008 for providing opportunities for aspiring dee jays.

Hosted by Wolverhampton Council, the literature festival aims to showcase a diverse array of writers and publishers in the Black Country and beyond.

In 2020 the festival, which was launched in 2016, ran online during the coronavirus crisis.

This year's event ends on Sunday. To join in see website