Bridgitte Tetteh speaks to Dragon’s Den star Levi Roots about his Christian upbrining and famous Reggae Reggae SauceShare |
Q. Why do you call yourself the Dragon Slayer?
A. I think I’ve been slaying dragons all my life, dragons are the people that stop young people from getting ahead. Dragons are all the people that stop us from realising our dreams. I’ve been slaying these dragons since I was 16 because back in the 70’s you didn’t have to do anything but have a black face to face your dragons.
Q. We know you from your pitch on Dragon’s Den where you encouraged us to step into the world of Reggae Reggae Sauce with the now legendary song...
A. I do believe if I’d gone into the Dragon’s Den in any other way but a guitar around my waist and singing this song I wouldn’t be here right now. Music was always my life, my grandmother was a fantastic singer, my mother’s a great voice in our Baptist church and we as a family always sang in the house and I just thought if I’m ever going to have a business I wanted to incorporate my music which has been a part of my life for about 30 years.
Q. Why did you go on Dragon’s Den?
A. I didn’t actually go to Dragon’s Den. Normally you approach them with your ideas but for me it happened the other way round, a lady approached me and said, ‘Levi your song is fantastic, we want you to be on Dragon’s Den.’ I asked my daughter Charlene and she didn’t think it was a good idea because they had seen black people go on these kind of shows and black people never seem to win, for whatever reason. I think it was because my kids said ‘Don’t do it’ that I thought, ‘You know what I’m going to prove them wrong.’ So I took up the challenge. I thought my song and my sauce would be good enough to actually go and slay those dragons.
Q. What experience did you have of church growing up?
A. I grew up in a Baptist family, my mother is a very Christian woman who brought us up on all the values of the Bible. I found my own identity through Rastafari when I listened to reggae music at 16.
Q. So for you Rastafarianism answered the questions that perhaps Christianity hasn’t entirely?
A. Yes absolutely because in school back in my day we didn’t have anything like Black History Month or anything like that, I didn’t even know that we were the slaves, I thought the slaves were somebody else.
Q. Do you have a favourite song?
A. I grew up in the church so I loved all types of song. ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd I Shall Not Want’, that’s a great song so I’d say that one.
Q. What advice would you give people trying to start a business?
A. The best way in business, for me, is to have a four way plan. First, have an idea because without that you’re not going to get anywhere. Second, you have to focus long term because in business nothing happens overnight. Number three is to have lots of passion, passion is what brings you through. Number four, and perhaps the most important, is get good advice, it’s what I call mentoring. I had a fantastic mentor in 2006 and it really helps.
Levi Roots was born in Clarendon, Jamaica into a Christian family and was raised as a Christian. While growing up in South London he faced discrimination because of his race. He rose to fame after appearing on Dragon’s Den with his Reggae Reggae Sauce and accompanying song. He appeared on the programme after being approached by the show’s producer, but had no idea what it actually was at the time. His sauce is now stocked by all major supermarkets and he has extended the range to cover food and snacks as well as lots more sauces. www.reggae-reggae.co.uk