5 Questions With … Wayne Wonder
It was in 1985 that reggae singer Von Wayne Charles, more popularly known as Wayne Wonder, released his first single. Titled Long and Lasting Love, it could very well have been a case of speaking something into being. Wayne’s professional and personal life have both been defined by those four words. He has built up a catalogue of hit songs which has enabled him to remain relevant in the music industry, close to 35 years after he first started; and he has had a long and lasting love with his wife of nearly two decades, Jackie.
Early in his career, Wayne teamed up with recording engineer Dave Kelly, who he had known since primary school days. They began to work together, producing some of Wayne’s most enduring songs, including the hits Saddest Day, Talk About, Live and Learn, Excess Amount, Glamour Girl, Sweet and Sour, Bashment Girl, and other original songs released on Donovan Germain’s Penthouse label.
His career connected solidly with international success with the 2003 Atlantic Records release, No Letting Go, and he has enjoyed an illustrious journey, which has seen him writing, producing, playing the guitar, and staying in the mix, even when the music took a turn and favoured deejays rather than singers.
“When the music moved from lovers rock to the more hard-core dancehall sound, at that point I knew that I had to have some uptempo songs to beep in the mix. So I moved some chords around and give it some melody, and it worked,” he told The Gleaner in a recent interview.
Wayne is still finding success and remains in demand. His most recent song is a Delroy Wilson cover, which he has reworked, and is connecting with a different generation.
Currently based in Florida, Wayne Wonder, the father of two, speaks glowingly of family life. 5 Questions With … recently caught up with Wayne for a quick chat.
With the Grammy awards just around the corner, how do you feel about this year’s reggae nominations?
It’s a real reggae category. I love Koffee, she has done some nice work and she has much more to give. Respect to all the nominees and at the end of the day, they are all winners.
What is your opinion on the lyrical content of today’s dancehall music?
We have to understand that each generation has a different way of doing things and getting their messages across. Right now, there is a difference in how information is received, replayed and displayed. In my days, we would hear about incidents and use our imagination to write lyrics for the situation. Now, you are seeing it live on your phone. Graphic and detailed. So we get a difference in how the situation is expressed. But, there are some of the youths in the business who need guidance. They have the ideas, but how it’s packaged lacks creativity.
In a music business where commitment is not always the name of the game, you are known as a family man. How do you sustain this?
Family is very important to me. My wife and kids come first. My wife and I are very good friends and because of that bond of friendship, we have remained true to each other.
How do you relax?
Relax? Well actually, I watch soccer. The Premier League, Spanish League and the Italian League. And music is also a part of the relaxation therapy, so I play the guitar and the keyboard.
How religious/spiritual are you?
(Laughs) Mi love God but mi don’t have nuh Christian friends. Is Kartel’s son, Likkle Addi, me hear seh so in the song Dollar Sign.