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Owen Knibbs returns after first and only single in 1987

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2016 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell Livingston
Owen Knibbs

Reggae singer Owen Knibbs recorded his first and only single, Juggler, in 1987. It showed promise.

The song, which was penned by Knibbs in 1982 while in school and recorded under the moniker 'Ista', is about people who hustle hard to make ends meet.

According to Knibbs, the song did well across Europe, Japan, and South America, and it is still popular in those countries.

The Gleaner caught up with the singer, who explained his absence.

"When the distributor only released a few hundred copies in Jamaica and did a major release overseas, Leon Virgo, my producer, ... decided he didn't want to [continue the] venture anymore, and I felt the same way, so I was just doing a lot of dancehall performances," he said.

For 28 years, Knibbs catered to his love of music by promoting events, writing, performing, and working as a selector on a United States-based sound system.

He has now decided it is time to step back into the game.

Although the challenges have increased, Knibbs describes his comeback as "a calling to make more music".

"I don't like the direction [in which] the music is going. We need more songs that address society's ills. It seems like what most [artistes] want to write about is money, car, women, and sexual prowess ... . Well, I have so much to share musically," he said.


Knibbs said he is getting back into the game to add his voice to those still keeping the conscious-reggae bar high.

"I still have a passion for the music, and it's not that the challenges are gone ... . In fact, it could be even worse now ... . The difference is I feel purpose-driven to be a part of the solution instead of complaining," said the singer.

Knibbs has now completed some new tracks, which he said he would be releasing soon. Among them are Bring Back The Days for Hi Dawg Production, Jail House Rock for Black Catalogue in France, and Them A Cheat for Phorein Records, among others.

His first release, Juggler, has been reissued by Jamwax Records out of France.

Born in Mount Salem,

St James, Knibbs grew up in Salt Spring, Montego Bay.

Ironically, he was introduced to music as a means of punishment as he said as an eight-year-old, his mother used to punish him by having him sit down and play music for her.

Fast-forward to today and Knibbs is all about using music as a teaching tool to get his positive message across.