Living in Miami for a decade has had its benefits — most notable of which has been a collection of really intelligent, talented, wonderful friends. One of the coolest people in the city (in my humble opinion), is Jason Fitzroy Jeffers.
When I first got to know Jason, he was a respected local journalist. Then he quit his full time writing career to focus solely on being a musician, and now he goes by his middle name. Fitzroy made a bold move, but it’s totally paid off — he performs regularly in venues throughout Miami, and his shows are known for being passionate, eclectic, and energetic. And his videos receive regular airplay on Caribbean video network, Tempo. (WHY can’t we get Tempo as a cable television option, Comcast? I bet Miami locals would love it!)
When Fitzroy is on stage, he transforms from the gentle and friendly Jason I know into a truly dynamic performer. And if he won’t mind me saying so – his hair is practically part of the performance. When the music hits him, Fitzroy whirls his magnificent mane of locks around like a dervish. His hair reflects and magnifies his energy. I was lucky enough to interview my friend, and ask him all about his hair philosophy.
Afrobella — You’ve got some awesomely long locks. What made you decide to grow them to begin with?
Fitzroy — It started with simple admiration of locks when I was a little boy growing up in Barbados. Even then, I felt that there was some kind of liberation that came with having your hair that long, not tampering with it’s natural outgrowth. Adolescence brought with it natural curiosity, particularly as far as spirituality was concerned: Islam, Judaism, Rastafari of course – I delved into them all.
It never seemed to me that any of these modes of thought or worship had some exclusive access to the path towards enlightenment, but there were things I picked up from each of them. The locks, came from a deep affinity with not only Rastafari, but also with other seekers around the world like the Hindu Sadhus of India. Throughout time, there have been people from many cultures who have grown their hair in this manner as a physical extension of their lifelong devotion to an inner spiritual quest, and when I was 18, I decided I wanted to do the same.
It all sounds heady, but I’ve been that guy since then. Thing is, my hair, my quest and I have been battered by neglect just as much as they have been cultivated through devotion. I’d be a proud frigging liar if I told you that I have always been unwavering in the exploration of my spirit, and by extension, in the care of my hair. I’m 28 now, and about 3, 4 years ago, things were pretty rocky; doubt and other such bastards were regularly at my door. The beautiful, humbling thing is that this affected my hair, and it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve started to see the results of the neglect that dug in deep. It’s interesting – you can study your locks much like how you can study the health and life of a tree through the rings inside its trunk. Towards the ends of my hair, I’ve experienced some breakage and weakening, and if I had to take a good guess, I’d say that it took root during that period in my life when there was a lot of indulgence and denial going on. Of course, some of this might have also come from twisting my hair a lot (I used to do this years go), but I’ve seen the breaks, and recently, I made a clean start again by severing the links, removing the weak parts where the breakage starts. No razor or scissors were involved, just my hands – the most simple, honest ceremony possible.
It’s all been – here comes that word again – humbling. A year ago, my hair was damn near to my knees, now most of it is just halfway down my back. While it was hurtful to see some of it go, the realization emerged that it was only some vain part of myself that could be causing that feeling, and that’s not something I wish to put any energy towards. I’ve never grown my hair for its appearance.
I must say though, this entire process has also been very empowering: the roots of my hair are stronger than they’ve ever been, and there’s a new freedom I feel. Essentially, it’s 10 years on since I set off on this particular journey, and though there have been some stumbles, the road continues to unfold and my spirit, my hair, and I continue to grow.
Afrobella — How old were you when you started? Did anyone ever encourage you not to grow them?
Fitzroy — My mother was always uncomfortable with the idea, but with time, she came around. Her concern was really for my well being: how my hair would affect people’s perception and dealings with me. She’s seen that they haven’t held me back, and actually digs them quite a bit now.
Afrobella — How do you take care of them? Do they require any kind of maintenance, or is it kind of a “let it do what it do” thing?
Fitzroy — Even when I’ve been most attentive to them, I let them do what they do, but with basic washing and nurturing. I really do believe that you should treat your hair like your garden: let it breathe and exist in its most natural state, and give it just what it needs to grow. Furthermore, don’t let it choke itself.
Afrobella — Now for the girliest question — products? Which ones do you recommend?
Fitzroy — For me it’s not too complicated: anything that contains love, water, tea tree oil or preferably aloe vera… gotta have your aloe vera.
So there you have it – insight from the man with the most impressive head of dreads I know. And one of the soundest minds in Miami. Thanks for the opportunity, Fitzroy!
Miami locals jonesing for live music – he’s re-emerging onto the music scene and as of right now, doing some experimental bi-weekly live performances at The News Bar downtown. Fitzroy’s going through some musical changes right now, and switching up his sound. But I do love some of his old material. Like the video for Can’t Keep Waiting. (Sorry man, I love it. Had to share it).
His album is currently out of print, but is still available on iTunes. If you’ve got any additional hair or music questions for Fitzroy, let me know! OH, and his girlfriend Keisha designed a fresh Obama teeshirt that’s available for sale on Zazzle. Check it out!