By JIM KEVLIN : ONEONTA
Listen to this:
In the morning of May 12, 2009, Jim Belleau, proprietor of Principally Prints in the Oneonta Theatre building for the past 25 years, was meditating, as is his daily practice.
“It was a very good meditation,” he reflected the other day. “I was in quite a peaceful state.”
Suddenly, he experienced words rushing by overhead, the way signs on overpasses flash by as you drive under them on I-88.
“I knew better than to trust that I would remember,” he said. “I got up, took up a piece of paper and started writing.”
In 20 minutes, he’d written 70 lines of poetry, of song. He’d never written poetry before.
“I thought it was kind of cool that this was happening,” he said.
Two days later, during meditation, it happened again. He roused himself and in a few minutes had written two stanzas of a second piece.
“What is this?” he asked himself.
“Immediately, the answer came, ‘message from Bob’,” he said. “I knew immediately it was Bob Marley,” the Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter who died in 1981.
“I’d write the first half of the line, and I would just wait for the second part of the line to appear,” said Belleau. “Every time I sat down to write, it came; every single time I would to it.”
In four weeks, he had completed 14 songs, each one with a message.
Together, the songs formed was Jim calls the “Quantum Reggae Manifesto. Message From Bob: Volume Oneness.” He added, “I am claiming to be literally channelling Bob Marley.”
Jim Belleau was born and raised in Salem, Mass., and graduated from St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Mass., and Emerson College. He came to Oneonta in 1982 – “a woman,” he explained – joined Principally Prints, and bought the business three years later.
A few years ago, he took up with Chris Rosenthal, who operates Harmony Hill Retreat Center, East Meredith, and they spent five years together.
The two began following the precepts of “A Course In Miracles,” published in 1977 by Helen Schucman, who developed it with her partner, William Thetford, originally psychologists at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.
Belleau said the resulting meditation caused him to let go of the “negative parts of my mind. It also allowed what I call the quantum mind to gradually replace the ego-bound mind. I began to experience states of peace that were unprecedented in my life.”
Bob Marley’s music advocates freedom as the best way to combat poverty, war, injustice.
“He is a worldwide symbol of freedom,” Jim said, adding that the Marley estate still grosses $100 million a year. “His influence is huge. Go to any city in the world larger than 10,000, and Marley will be there.”
However, here we are, three decades later, and there’s little evidence that poverty, war and injustice are decreasing. If anything, quite the opposite.
Last year, he found himself telling this story to a woman who stopped by the shop, and she offered, “I have a girlfriend who knows a Rasta-man,” who turned out to be Maroghini, a leading Jamaican percussionist who had performed with Marley; as it happened, he had been in Marley’s house the day the musician died.
Belleau sent off an e-mail, and received a reply. Maroghini’s mother, who lives in Spring Valley, was ill, and “I happen to need to be in Upstate New York in two weeks.”
The Oneontan drove down, met the musician, told him the story and gave him the poems. “If I can connect with it, I’ll do it,” Maroghini said.
“Two weeks later, he wrote back and said, ‘I have the first song,” said Belleau, who downloaded the track, “and I heard this beautiful song.”
It was “War is Gone.” The percussionist had recruited Donald Waugh and other notable Jamaican musicians to perform with him.
Maroghini rewrote some of the poems to work better as lyrics, and one or two new songs a month arrived for the next 10 months.
Meanwhile, Belleau got an agent, Bernie Walters of Indian Ledge Records in Albany, collaborated with Oneonta’s Dave Kenny in creating www.quantumreggae.com, which will go live on Friday, April 29 – AllOTSEGO.life’s day of publication – in time for the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death, May 11, 1981.
The music will be available through the site, but Belleau and his agent – on the same release date – also plan to send copies of the DVD, “Quantum Reggae: Message from Bob, Volume Oneness” to national and international labels. In addition to the music, it contains the account of how it came about, and sales pitch.
Through Maroghini, Jim plans to make the release available first to the Marley estate.
“Why am I the one who gets to do this?”
Belleau has two answers, the first being “my relationship with the one-ness” developed through the discipline of his meditation and his training through “A Course in Miracles.”
Second, “I’m white. The the product of a New England prep school” – the choice is both unlikely and one that would allow the creative and marketing steps taken to date to occur. He adds, “and I’ve never written a song in my life.”
There’s also a logo, three slashes – one red, one green, one gold, the colors of the Jamaican flag – formed in “an interlocking chain of forgiveness.”
While Jim Belleau is excited about the events of the past two years, he is also energized by the possibilities of Bob Marley’s message for the world and everyone in it.
As this takes off, remember: You read it here first.
Jim Belleau, proprietor of Principally Prints, the Oneonta frame shop, believes he’s been “channelling” Bob Marley, and is about to deliver the reggae musician’s message from beyond the grave.
|“QUANTUM REGGAE MANIFESTO. Message From Bob: Volume Oneness,” become available today at|