His father was a selector in the sleepy village of Point Hill in St Catherine, whose musical influence rubbed off on his son who is widely known by the stage name “Zanda P”, the man keeping the old-school dancehall fire burning in New Jersey and beyond.
Alexander Donovan Petgrave, born in September 1972 in Point-Hill, Jamaica, is a highly talented reggae sing-jay and songwriter currently residing in Patterson, New Jersey in the USA. Zanda P’s musical journey began at a young age, as he showcased his remarkable talent while attending primary school. Every day, he entertained his classmates by using various tools as instruments to create music, impressing them with his catchy hooks and punch lines which laid the early foundations for his musical career.
Zanda P describes his style as “old school fashion reggae/dancehall” mixing influences and styles from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s. He first came to national attention in 1989 when he became a resident DJ for the area sound system, Chalwah Supreme, when he earned first place in a DJ competition after sharing the stage with notable artistes like Clevey Councilor, Nando Ranks, and others. He came second in the ‘Pop and Variety’ segment of the Festival Competition at the Ranny Williams Theatre in 1991 representing St. Catherine followed by a third place in the Tastee Talent Contest in the same year, but his big break came through a chance meeting with the great Ken Boothe who had recorded global hits in the 1960s and 70s before Zanda P was born.
“I was singing along to a version of “Let it Be” which is a remix of the old Beatles classic at the studio where I was recording when Ken Boothe heard me and said “youte ah soh yuh sound suh good inna key”. That encounter was the beginning of a lifelong friendship, which led to tours and collaborations. Meanwhile, his dedication to his craft led him to legendary recording studios like King Tubby’s and Jammy’s, where he was always eager to work on new music.
‘Good mix and nice vibe’
Zanda P also formed Stampa Productions LLC with Stanford Henry, which led to collaborations with legendary artistes like Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Ken Boothe, General Trees, Capleton, Sizzla, Admiral Tibet, and many others.
Zanda P recently released Si Mi Yah, a catchy tune which has already racked up over 50,000 streams. The video features African dancers and is partly shot in Canada – his biggest hit since Let it Be.
Between 1995 to1997, Zanda P embarked on his first US tour, which saw him perform at major clubs such as the Jamaica Domino Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; clubs in Baltimore and New York, the Quest Club in Patterson New Jersey and Eclipse in East Orange NJ, where he pulled what he described as “a good mix and a nice vibe” from an audience comprising a mix of races and age groups.
The sing-jay is about to embark on his greatest odyssey so far, fulfilling a lifelong dream to visit the African continent beginning with a performance in Liberia, where he is set to release the appropriately named single Calling, featuring the legendary Bongo Herman on Kette drums.
Beyond his musical endeavours, Zanda P is a devoted family man and takes pride in being a father to three talented children, who are also involved in the arts. Having gained permanent residency in the United States since 2011, he has made Patterson, New Jersey his home.
Looking ahead, Zanda P and Stampa Productions have many more exciting projects in the works. His journey as a reggae sing-jay and songwriter is a testament to his unwavering passion for music, and he continues to leave a significant impact on the global reggae community with his soulful and inspiring compositions.