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Barrington Levy performing with 16 global acts. JAM Festival 10 April 2021.

/ By Shena Mitchell
Barrington Levy performing with 16 global acts.   JAM Festival 10 April 2021.

One of the great success stories of the 80’s, arrived on the dancehall scene and swiftly remodelled it in his own image. Although numerous DJ’s and vocalist would rise and fall during this decade, Levy was one of the few with staying power, and he continued releasing massive hits well into the 90’s. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, as a youngster, Barrington Levy formed the Mighty Multitude with his cousin Everton Dacres.

They started off playing the sound systems and cut their first single, “My Black Girl,” in 1977. All of 14, Levy broke out his own the next year and recorded his debut solo single, A Long Time Since We Don’t Have No Love.” It didn’t have much of an impact, however, the teen’s appearances in the dancehalls were eagerly awaited events. It was at one of these that Levy met former singer turned producer Junjo Lawes and New York-based producer Hyman “Jah Life” Wright. The pair took the youth into King Tubby’s studio, accompanied by the Roots Radics, and recorded a clutch of cuts. The first fruits of this union were “Ah Yah We Deh,” quickly followed by “Looking My Love”, and “ Wedding Ring Aside.” Success was immediate, but it was the mighty “Collie Weed” that really cemented the teen’s hold of dancehall.

“Shine Eye Girl”, was a smash follow up, and the young Levy was now in great demand. A stream of singles followed “Jumpy Girl”, a lovely version of Horace Andy’s “Skylarking”, “Reggae Music”, Levy joined forces with producer Alvin Ranglin for another sting of hits—“Never Tear My Love Apart,” “Jah”, “You Made Me So Happy,” and “When You’re Young and in Love.”Levy’s rich vocals were made for duets, both with other vocalists and DJ’s, and it wasn’t long before the young star was also recording collaborative singles. Toyan was a great foil on “Call You on the Phone”, he paired with Jah Thomas on “Moonlight Lover” and “Sister Debby”, and joined forces with Trinity for “Lose Respect” and a follow-up, “I Need a Girl” in 1980. That same year, Levy made a sensational appearance at Reggae Sunsplash, then returned in 1981. During these early years, the singer seemingly spent all of his time between the recording studios and the dancehalls. Amidst the deluge of singles, four albums arrived as well between 1979 and 1980. First up was Bounty Hunter, which boasted three smash singles—“Reggae Music”, “Shine Eye Girl”, and “Looking My Love” –and a clutch of other tracks that were just about as good. In Britain, the Burning Sounds label released Shine Eye Gal, also a hits heavy package which included the title track-track, “Collie Weed”, and “Ah Yah We Deh.” It was swiftly followed by the mighty Englishman, an absolutely fabulous record which was overseen by the unbeatable studio grouping of Junjo Lawes and two of King Tubby’s protégés—Scientist and Prince Jammy. A veteran of the clubs, he brought the spontaneity of the DJ to his records while returning vocals back to the sound system scene which had been purely the realm of the Djs.
Utilizing old roots rhythms revitalized by the Radics, and giving the songs a hard, but danceable edge, Lawes and Levy together helped establish a whole new dancehall sound.

1980’s Robin Hood merely affirmed that everyone in Jamaica already knew: That Levy was now the biggest star on the island, with a talent that was unbeatable. Or more accurately, he was king of the singers, because ruling beside him was DJ Yellowman, another Lawes’ discovery, that was brought to him by Barrington Levy. Robin Hood was as big as its predecessor and was beginning to have an impact in Britain as well, where both it and Englishman had been released by the Greensleeves label. Not surprisingly, both albums heavy rhythms would provide the building blocks for the Scientist V Prince Jammy dub clash album. Unfortunately, Levy’s very popularity was now beginning to have some serious drawbacks. Even before stardom arrived, the singer had noticed with delight fans taping his sets at the dancehalls, and these tapes were coming back to haunt him. Suddenly, the shelves were buckling under the weight of the bootlegged albums, featuring not just older pirated live material, but also unreleased outtakes and recycled older singles. In response, Levy didn’t release a new album for two years, but in the meantime, new singles more than made up for it. From 1980 came such hits as the haunting Lawes-produced “Mary Long Tongue” producer Linval Thompson’s “Too Poor,” and a string if hits cut with Karl Pitterson, including “ I Have a Problem” and “Even Tide Fire a Disaster”. And as the decade progressed, the flood hits continued. “I’m Not in Love”, “You Have It”, “Tomorrow Is Another Day”, “Robberman”, “BlackRose” “My Women”, and “Money Move” were just a small number of the hits released between 1981 and 1983, with the latter song the biggest smash of the batch. Levy even tried his hand at self-production, recording such excellent songs as “In the Dark” and “Love of Jah.” Amongst there were fabulous singles recorded for Joe Gibbs, “My Women” included.

1983 finally saw the release of Levy album “Money Move”. The latter was excellently overseen by George Phang and boasted a stupendous group of rhythms that Sly & Robbie had specifically made for the producer. In the U.K, the burning sounds label also released Hunter Man, a greatest-hits collection. But the hits were still coming on strong; in 1984 none were bigger than Levy and Jah Screw produced “Under Mi Sensi.” The pair would also record a new album that year, Here I Come, whose title track would the top 50 in the U.K The album itself took Britain by storm and ensured that Levy walked away with the Best Vocalist Award at Britain’s Reggae Awards. It was also these songs that secured his spot in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the first reggae artist to hold both 1st and 2nd place slots in the charts. The same year, the singer also joined forces with another young singer who was tearing up the dance floors, Frankie Paul, for the intriguing sound clash set Barrington Levy meets Frankie Paul. 1985 brought Prison Oval Rock (the Volcano Jamaican label release, and not to be confused with the RAS label’s U.S. compilation of the same title), which found the singer joining forces with Lawes again, for another roots-fired set equal to its predecessors. It had been six years since Levy burst onto the scene with all the force of a nuclear weapon. Now in his early twenties, the singer’s output significantly began to slow. He did return to Reggae Sunsplash in 1987 and would remain a top attraction at the festival until 1985. He also released “Love the Life you Live” in 1988, a rather patchy effort compared to previous releases. It was to be his last new album until 1991. But Levy wasn’t a spent force yet. Before the ’80s were over, he scored two more hits with “My Time” and “Too Experience”, both under the aegis of producer Jah Screw, and both covers of songs written by Bob Andy (ex-Paragons and also of Bob & Marcia fame).

Signing with MCA in the U.S., Levy attempted to cross over into the North American market with 1983’s Barrington. Produced by Lee Jaffe, the album featured a re-recorded “Under Mi Sensi”, and boasted strong songs as “Murderer” and “Vice Versa Love” and “Be Strong”, a major hit in the Caribbean and South America. However, the relationship with MCA was not a happy one and Levy quickly departed. Meanwhile, back in Britain, the singer was chalking up another hit with “Work”. In 1994, Levy was joined by Beenie man on the singles “Two Sounds” and “Murderer”. Both soon reappeared as fiery jungles remixes.

Barrington will also be performing in the JAM Festival, which is a collaboration between Jeeni, AmplifyX and MultiView Media and will be held at 12 noon Los Angeles time, 8 pm London time on Saturday, April 10th 2021. To find out more about the JAM Festival check out our events on Facebook.


Kickstart Scheme - Jeeni Marketing Executive Freya Devlin

   Launched by Rishi Sunak last September as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government’s Kickstart Scheme provides funding to employers to create jobs for 16–24-year-olds who are receiving Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment. Jeeni have already successfully taken on young people through the scheme and will continue doing so. The successful Kickstart employees are taken on for initial placement of up to 6 months. And given training to learn new skills, and ongoing support to look for long-term, permanent work. What was your role within Jeeni? My title within Jeeni was marketing executive, but my responsibilities were very broad. Everything from content planning, crowdfunding, PR and copywriting. Although I mostly focused on promoting Jeeni events, writing blogs and social media management. What skills did you believe you have developed during your time at Jeeni? I’ve developed many skills everything from SEO to project planning. But most of all I believe I’ve developed my soft skills such as team working, critical thinking, and communication. Working remotely it's important to utilise time management and to be extremely organised, so these are skills I've further developed. Additionally, I've been encouraged to work both independently and collaborate with colleagues. In doing so I have become more self-sufficient as well as improving my interpersonal skills. What did you enjoy the most during your time at Jeeni? Overall, I have enjoyed my entire experience working at Jeeni as part of the Kickstart Scheme. A few notable things would definitely be promoting various types of artists, marketing for events and working alongside a team who are passionate about the work that they do. Seeing the success of projects I've worked on and the experience I've gained has helped me become more confident in my own capabilities. Do you have any tips for future Jeeni employees, that will help them succeed?  I think that it’s important to trust in your own abilities while also taking on board advice from others and learning along the way. Jeeni is such a supportive company, that encourages creativity and personal growth. So I believe that just being yourself and working hard will guarantee success. What would you say are some of the best aspects / features of Jeeni?  Jeeni is an incredible platform for creatives to share their work, they are treated fairly while keeping everything that they earn. It's a welcome contrast to the majority of streaming services that are available. Jeeni shines a spotlight on independent artists who otherwise may struggle to be heard over the noise of big record labels. Furthermore, Jeeni supports all types of creatives not just music artists but dancers, animators, voice actors and more. Do you have any suggestions on how Jeeni could perhaps be more effective as an overall streaming platform? To just keep improving on what they are already doing and to remain focused on independent talent. Goals for the future? I’d like to keep learning and improving my skills, take on bigger projects, and hopefully be working for a company that values its staff, customers, and creative talent just as Jeeni does. It's been a great opportunity to work with Jeeni through the Kickstart Scheme. And the experience I've gained will continue to support me throughout my career.


Top Ten Tips on How To Promote your Music Independently

Let's set the scene. We believed there would be a load of "How to Videos..." giving expert advice to help musicians, artists and performers along their merry way. We thought just Google it and the rest would be simple. But the quality of what we have found raises the question, "how helpful are these videos really, and do musicians and performers use them"? Do these videos add real value? To find out more, we're asking the new 400 Unsigned Artist Community members what they think. Maybe they have found a video or a blog which changed their fortunes, and they are willing share and let us know why it had such an impact. Let's see how far this forum opens new discussions and debate. Having listened to Jasmine from Ditto in the video below, we started to think that our first job might be to start a discussion around "how to promote and market your work". So you don't have to watch the whole 7 minute video, we have just listed the headlines to get a discussion going. (approx. 60 seconds read time) 1. Making great music, music always comes first. 2. Play as often as you can, make them remember you. Put on a killer live show and make an impact. 3. Start locally, go nationally and then head out on tour. Ed Sheeran says he played at least a thoiusand shows, before he became known in the music industry. 4. Create a website and build a mailing list - which links to your music, bio, promo images, tour dates, mailing list and sign-up form. 5. Get your social media sorted! Keep a consistent brand identity! Include competitions, polls, track snippets, press shots, backstage videos. Use targeted social adds, do not use mass advertising. 6. Check out what other successful performers are doing and learn from them, rather than starting from scratch. 7. Get your tracks PLAYLISTED. 8. Manage your own PR and contact journalists directly. Create an Electronic Press Kit, write a press release, upload your music, send to bloggers & journalists. 9. Surround yourself by the right people. Just because you are independent, that does not mean you have to do everything on your own. 10. Know your audience and focus on your niche! So that's it folks, let's create our own list and add value to this vital conversation. If you would like to join the new Unsigned Artists Community check us out and send in a request to join today.


7 Of The Best Music Sites and Blogs

We have scanned the internet and asked members what they think are the 7 of the best music sites and blogs. Basically, what's hot and what's not! Our choices may well differ from yours, so let's have the debate. Many things have changed in recent months and will change at an even greater pace now. With online streaming services we can enjoy our music for free or at a low cost. So let's get started with the ones we love. 1. Water and Music We love Water and Music which is an audio companion to the email newsletter of the same name, dedicated to unpacking the fine print behind big ideas in music and technology. The title comes from a conversation between Quincy Jones and Kendrick Lamar, in which the former declares: "The last things to leave this planet will be water and music." Host Cherie Hu is an award-winning freelance journalist and analyst focusing on the intersection of music, media and technology, with regular bylines in publications including Billboard, Forbes and Music Business Worldwide. 2. vampr We love Vampr. Vampr is an app that helps you discover, connect and collaborate with fellow musicians, the music industry and music lovers alike. Vampr stats show 33,798,736 swipes and 5,017,135 connections made in 198 countries worldwide. 3. Pitchfork We also love Pitchfork. Pitchfork has some awesome features such as best new music, and we really like the music reviews. The writers seem to be in the know and very much "thought leaders" in the music industry. They are continually updating the website with the latest information related to the music industry. In addition, Pitchfork hosts its own music festival which will be held in Chicago this year. 4. Hypebot We also love Hypebot. Hypebot is one of the most well-known online music sites in the industry, and there is good reason for that! The site is updated very regularly, so you know you are getting all the latest information possible. They also cover other areas such as “Music Tech”, “DIY” and “Charts”. You can also sign up to the Hypebot newsletter to get the daily lowdown on everything happening straight to your inbox! Hypebot covers a wide variety of topics in the music industry, so no matter what you are looking for, you’ll probably be able to find it here. They also have a charts section where you can filter by “emerging artists” or “established artists” as well as the country and city. And of course you can play artist tracks. 5. YourEDM Our next site is Your EDM, dedicated to Electronic Dance Music. Everything you need to stay up to date with the latest in electronic music can found here. This includes all the latest news as well as featured articles and sub-sections/ genres of EDM, like house and bass. On this site you even have the ability to download free songs, from a variety of different artists trying to make a name for themselves in the industry. All the different sub-genres are listed on the site, so even if your taste is really narrow in EDM, you can still find some great information. New info almost daily. Make sure you follow them on social media to get updates on the latest information. 6. All Music Next on our it's-gotta-be-hot list is All Music. All Music doesn’t really have as much news on the music industry as the others listed here, but their focus is mainly on providing information in new music and helping visitors discover their next obsession. They also provide recommendations if you create an account, and once you have rated albums, you will get recommendations on what to listen to next. Covering from all common genres including pop, rap, electronic, classical, blues, country and more. They provide an in-depth review of all the latest albums and give options on how to stream the tunes if you want to. There are three different ratings available to view, “All Music Rating”, “User Ratings” and “Your Rating” so you can have a more detailed view on what people think about a particular album. 7. JEENI Last but not least we love Jeeni, a new platform for Independent Musicians and Performers. JEENI is a multi-channel streaming service for original and unsigned talent. Jeeni provides a showcase for musicians and performers to put their talent in the spotlight, giving superfans the power to make them stars. The Jeeni promise is to treat their creative talent ethically, fairly, honestly and with respect. Additionally, Jeeni publishes its own blog, all about Jeeni and current industry news. Most importantly Jeeni commits to – No hype. No adverts. No rip-offs. No Fakes, and making sure that the artists get 100% of their direct sales. Find out more here That's all Folks!