"Swimming with alligators sounds a lot more dangerous than it really is," says Avion, while twisting her dreads and describing her adventurous days as a tomboy living in a tropical rainforest with 17 brothers.
Born in the bustling city of San Fernando, Trinidad, Avion lived in luxury as a daughter of the famous calypsonian, Lord Shorty. As a young dreadlocked child, she was very outgoing and began singing on stage in front of large crowds at the tender age of four. That year, her life drastically changed when on a spiritual quest, her father transplanted his massive family to the jungle.
She spent the next twenty years of her life living seven rugged miles from the remote Indian village of Piparo in a log cabin with no doors or windows, plumbing or electricity and few groceries--but plenty of music. She was home schooled, and her family lived primarily off the land--growing virtually everything that they ate. Their days were filled with Bible studies, intense rehearsals, various tour dates and regular performances for visitors. As a child in this modern day Robinson Crusoe-like family, Avion loved climbing trees, swinging from vines, fishing, and of course, swimming with alligators.
Avion learned the art of harmony while touring and singing chorus for her father, who took on the name Ras Shorty I after his conversion to Christianity. He was the inventor of Soca and Jamoo music. She learned how to play a number of instruments from many of her 24 brothers and sisters. At the age of fourteen she began playing bass for their family band, "The Love Circle". Her first solo studio recordings were "Oh Why" and "So Free", for The Love Circle's Children of the Jamoo Journey release. Years later, she recorded the initial versions of "Sweet Love" (for their Homegrown album) and "Heaven Above" (for Lion of Zion's The Gathering project).
In 2003, she moved to Los Angeles, CA, married Christafari’s Mark Mohr and joined the band as the bassist and a vocalist of the group. She became well-known from touring with Christafari worldwide, and for her ethereal lead vocals on Christafari's "Hiding Place" and "My Sustenance" on the group's critically acclaimed Gravity release. All of the above set the stage perfectly for releasing her solo debut.
In January of 2005 the recording began for Blackman's first album Onyinye (pronounced 0we-neen-yay). Thirteen smashing songs were produced by Mark Mohr (alongside co-producers Solomon Jabby and Avion Blackman-Mohr). The music was performed by members of Christafari and an all-star cast of the best session players in Los Angeles (including live strings, acoustic guitar, Peruvian pan flute, horns, and even turntables). The album was recorded and mixed at Zionic Sounds Dub Lab and mastered at Lion and Fox Studios.
On this heartwarming gospel release, Avion sings tender songs about her love for God and man. It was a family affair as Avion, her husband and other members of the family wrote the infectious tracks that make up this musical masterpiece. This is an intimate album that contains a blend of reggae, R&B, jazz, jamoo, Indian and African rhythms.
In promotion of Onyinye, Avion and her band are currently traveling the world performing with Christafari, Solomon Jabby, and others on the Reggae Redemption Tour.