Sat | Jan 19, 2019

From the root: ‘Cool Runnings’ with Errol Dunkley

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Errol Dunkley

After negotiating traffic barriers in the west Kingston zone of special operations (ZOSO), which soldiers readily move as the marked Gleaner vehicle approaches, then going through Trench Town, The Sunday Gleaner's recent day across Kingston with singer Errol Dunkley ends at the Sound Waves base near Cross Roads, St Andrew. Dunkley is obviously among many friends there including singer Dennis Walks whose Drifter is a Jamaican popular music staple and delivers verses and chorus of his song Cool Runnings, which will be on his next album.

"I have already got eight songs. I probably going to have 14 songs on it," Dunkley revealed. "I have a song for it called Cool Runnings. I would love to give it to the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB)." At The Sunday Gleaner's request, Dunkley promptly shows why he believes the song of invitation to an intriguing island would fit in with the tourist trade. Like many of his previous songs, Dunkley is taking control of the project as its producer. It is a role he is very proud of.

Dunkley, one of Jamaica's child singing stars, was connected to Delroy Wilson (Dancing Mood, Better Must Come) and Dennis Brown, describing the latter as "my good brethren that". Both of them died in the 1990s. In going to his childhood home and haunts with The Sunday Gleaner, Dunkley reflected on singing professionally from he was a teenager, reflecting, "me a big man long time".

Dunkley moved to England in the early 1970s as political turmoil hit Jamaica and many were expected to publicly choose the 'right' side. He chose to leave rather than be involved in the conflict. However, the British connection allowed Dunkley to make musical links between Jamaica and England, and he tells The Sunday Gleaner, "Me is one of the first man carry a sound system out of Jamaica." That was Ray Symbolic in 1982, with performers like Ranking Joe and selector Jah Stitch. Although speakers already in England were utilised, the sound system's amplifiers were shipped out to good effect.

"At the time, we want to show them how to use it the real way," Dunkley said as at the time, sound systems in England were not getting the best bass frequencies out of their equipment. As Dunkley put it, "The sound no have no weight."