Earlier this year, Jamaica-born artist Sizzla Kalonji joined a handful of other Caribbean artists — including Aidonia, Elephant Man, and Beenie Man — who were cleared to return to the United States. Back in July, Sizzla, who was born Miguel Collins, took to Instagram to inform his fans that his work visa had finally been reinstated and to prepare them for his forthcoming 876 tour, which kicks off this week in South Florida.
After releasing a mind-boggling 71 albums to date, Sizzla’s music hasn’t always settled well with human rights groups, especially those in the LGBT community. Although the U.S. Embassy never stated an exact reason, Collins’ work visa was revoked back in 2008, which has caused him to cancel numerous tour dates. Many fans and industry insiders believed that his offensive songs like “Nah Apologize” and “Murder Dem,” which contain inflammatory lyrics toward gay people, encouraged the government to keep him from returning to the country. Collins has remained silent on the subject since his return to the United States.
The “Give Me a Try” crooner made his first appearance back in the U.S. headlining the 32nd-annual Reggae on the River festival in Garberville, California. The performance went on as planned despite calls from LGBT activists to get Sizzla kicked off the bill. Now, he’s made his way back to South Florida to perform for the first time in eight years. Tonight, August 24, Sizzla will take the stage at Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live to perform new cuts off his latest project, 876, which dropped earlier this year; his 2013 album, The Messiah; and other fan favorites.
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“When I tour, I get to meet the fans,” Sizzla told New Times at a press event a few days before his South Florida show, “so I take the sprit of the fans with me everywhere. When I’m onstage and the people are giving me that energy, when I reach the next venue, this is the same energy that I’m going to deliver to that audience. It’s an ongoing process."
Now that he’s making waves on U.S. soil once again, Sizzla hopes to put his controversial past behind him and treat his American fan base with the sounds of well-crafted island jams from his native land. The reggae star has high expectations for what’s to come as he kicks off his 876 U.S. tour in Fort Lauderdale, after which he will hit Orlando, Atlanta, and 22 other major American cities this fall.
“More love, peace, more vibrations, and unity,” says Sizzla. “Expect the fans to turn out in numbers in the hundred thousands.”
Sizzla with the Fire House Band and Vision Band. 7 p.m. Wednesday, August 24, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $39 to $69 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.