Thu | Apr 19, 2018

Songs of fathers

Published:Sunday | June 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Beres Hammond
Music producer, The Wizard.
DJ Inferno
From left: Chino, Freddie McGregor, and Stephen.

Family trends in Jamaican popular music are not unusual, with the offspring of prominent - and not so prominent - practitioners growing up to engage in the same business as their parents.

While much attention is naturally given to those who make records and are on stage such as Denroy Morgan and Morgan Heritage, there are instances where the child employs his skills in a different aspect of music from his parent. The Wizard, who does a particularly eclectic mode of selecting, and disc jockey DJ Inferno, are both children of standout vocalist Beres Hammond. And Buju Banton mentions Markus, who is now a music producer, in his song How It A Go Go on the 1990s Joyride riddim.

Freddie McGregor has sons who have taken to the performing and production sides of music. Deejay Chino counts Rough It Up among his songs, while Stephen (dubbed 'Di Genius') had an especially good run in the middle of the previous decade when the Red Bull and Guinness riddim was among his standout productions. Stephen has also had a couple of turns behind the microphone, Cyaa Fren Again among that output as a vocalist. Freddie's daughter, Yashemabeth, has chosen the vocalist route.

Studio manipulations and video wizardry made it possible for Natalie Cole to record with her deceased father, Nat 'King' Cole, Unforgettable, resulting from that combination, which is on the 1991 album, Unforgettable ... With Love. Tarrus Riley had the opportunity to record with his father, Jimmy, and they did Black Mother Pray (originally recorded by Jimmy), which is included in Tarrus' 2012 Mecoustic album.

The song is about a woman's travails as she tries to make it through life. In the remake, Tarrus sings of the sorrow:

"Tears slowly swim to her eyes

And sadly she sits and sighs

Oh Lord tell me why

Black mother prays"

Then Jimmy sings about the resolve:

"Life is so very hard

Well I'll keep on pushing Lord

Got to see my children grow

To find a happiness I've never known"


Four years after that release, Jimmy Riley died in March this year.

As its title suggests, the Tarrus Riley set has an acoustic bent. That slower, more melodic format of a father and son song contrasts with Stupid Money, which Wayne Marshall does with Assassin/Agent Sasco and also his son, Geomar. The youngster has the responsibility of singing the chorus:

"Stupid money

Rich until me fool

Buy a big mansion for Mommy

With an Olympic-size pool."

Musical successors of deceased fathers are not unusual. Kenyatta Hill, whose father, Joseph 'Culture' Hill, died in 2006, has taken over lead vocals for the group. The transition from father to son took place when Joseph died while on a tour of Europe and Kenyatta filled in for the rest of the dates. Kenyatta again did lead vocals at a tribute concert to his father at the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Hope Road, solidifying his new role before a Jamaican audience.

Garnet Silk died in 1994, and recently, Garnet Silk Jr released the album Let Reuben Live.

There is at least one son who has gone a step further than vocals in patterning his father. Andrew Tosh not only does songs by his father, Peter, (who was killed on September 11, 1987) such as Legalise It, but also rides a unicycle like his father did.