Musician Caleb Hart has captured the world with the soulful reggae sounds of his award-winning band Tasman Jude. He tells Jessica Morris how meeting Jesus has changed his life.
Your music has a pop/RnB vibe infused with reggae and soul—a lot different to standard top 40 hits. Why does it resonate with so many people?
I think that people are starved of music that has substance. The truth is something that people want, whether they know it or not. I try to be honest in my music—whether I’m upset, being positive or just feel like going to the beach.
You’re from Trinidad and Tobago and now live in Canada. How did Australia become like another home for you?
A good friend from Canada was living in Brisbane and told me that I should apply for this festival in Toowoomba called Easterfest. So, I did. It made no sense because my band Tasman Jude was like nine months old with a five-song EP album released. We were essentially a nobody reggae band from Northern Alberta (Canada).
A few months after returning to Canada, I got contacted by Easterfest about coming to Australia to do a school tour. We ended up doing 87 shows in 77 days and had an absolutely amazing experience that really helped solidify our return to Australia the next year and my return to Australia this year, as a solo artist.
I love this place and its people. Australia has been family in a way that far surpassed any expectations I could have had.
You sing and communicate with people at festivals, in schools, in prisons and in detention centres. What compels you to do this?
My gift is just that…a gift. As I say in one of my unreleased songs, “How can I do this for myself if love’s the reason that I’m singing?” That pretty much sums up why I do what I do—love. I come from a rough background and God’s love changed my life for good. Why not use that transformation to bring hope through music to everyone?
What was your life like before you became a Christian?
Life before Christ was not life. It was more like death with a facade of life. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me.
How has Jesus transformed your life?
“I am love and have created you to love.” Those were the words Jesus said to me when he transformed my life in September 2009. Since then, it has been an incredibly difficult and fulfilling life. I went from being an angry and addicted teenager to a joy-filled adult, all thanks to Jesus.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far and why?
There have been so many highlights. Everything from playing for thousands of people, to intimate house concerts in Canada, and playing on the street on my home island of Tobago where my mum got to see me ‘do my thing’ for the first time.
The experience that made me feel most thankful was a small birthday party with 20–30 children, most of whom “shouldn’t be alive” due to medical issues. They all loved the music so much.
What is the most important message you want to share with people who are struggling?
There is always hope. I struggle every day but I remember that there is hope. God is not some beast up in the sky with a lightning rod ready to electrocute you whenever you do something bad. He’s a loving father who wants to guide you into righteousness and comfort you when you’re struggling. God is love.
Caleb’s debut solo EP Island Soul is available on 23 June.