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Count Prince Miller wants more int'l airplay for reggae

Published:Saturday | September 20, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Count Prince Miller poses with one of his many awards while Jamaican High Commissioner Aloun Ndombet Assamba share in the moment.-Contributed

Deon P. Green, Gleaner Writer

As a young boy, I was captivated by the unforgettable Mule Train and the husky, bubbly voice of Count Prince Miller. That is the man who, in 2007, was made a Commander of the Order of Distinction for his contributions to the music industry in Jamaica.

But what has become of this legend from St Mary with the name Clarence Linberg Miller and the Mule Train he originated?

Rural Xpress caught up with the Jamaican-born, British-based actor and musician at one of his stints in the British capital last week and can reveal that the man behind the 'Train' is still rolling, even raising concerns about the lack of airplay for reggae music on mainstream radio internationally.

Despite not hitting the charts, Count Prince said reggae music is a national treasure that is yet to be promoted properly on the international market. He told Rural Xpress from central London, "While I am happy with the present standard of reggae music in Jamaica, which is different from dancehall music - people all over the world continuing to talk about it - but there is an unknown stigma attached; it is not properly promoted on the international markets, mainly England and the United States of America. In England, for example, many DJs are reluctant to play reggae music in comparison to pop and other forms of music."

Referring to radio stations in Britain, he said, "They don't even have stations that can be identified with reggae music and most people have to turn to pirate stations to hear the music. The only way to break a music into the market here (Britain) is to have it played on the major radio stations, like BBC Radio One for it to become a hit."

Miller added that there are many promising reggae artistes in Jamaica, having visited the island recently, and a way needs to be found to have their music played on major radio stations internationally for them to be exposed and for their music to become international hits.

promoting J'can culture

The musician/actor pointed out that he continues to promote the Jamaican culture and music in all forms, having just completed a stint in the British film, A Punter's Prayer. In the film yet to hit the British streets, Count Prince said his Jamaican accent and swagger are pronounced: "When dem hear it dem know sey that it is Jamaican," he emphasised. In the film, Miller plays a role in which he is an original punter who has a son in Jamaica who is an ambassador, another in the United States, who is an IT technologist and a third, out of wedlock, aged 13, having separated from his wife. He demonstrated the difficulty in bringing up his children to the highest academic standard as a single Jamaican father. He is verbally abused by his white counterparts who later apologised because of his impeccable attire and luck.

Miller began his career as a musician, recording a number of reggae songs. His best known songs, Mule Train, Parts One & Two, were hits on Trojan Records in 1971 before being rerecorded with Sly and Robbie in the early 1980s.

His biography reveals that his musical performances in those early days drew comparison with Judge Dread for his somewhat 'bawdy' music. He also regularly appeared with Jimmy James. Known as something of a showman, Miller was picked to compère the 1969 Wembley Reggae Festival, the first major reggae-music event in Britain. Miller is also a comedian and a master of many ceremonies here in Britain.

As an actor, Miller's credits include the role of Vince in the sitcom, Desmond's, renown among the West Indian community in days gone by. He was backed by musicians, Ram John Holder and Sol Raye, as well as the show's star Norman Beaton with a Guyanese twist. Miller's role continued in the spin-off series, Porkpie.

Miller went on to make an appearance in the 2003 film What a Girl Wants, while he secured best male actor award at the 2006 Black Film-makers' International Awards Ceremony for his role in Winnie and the Duppy Bat.

Miller has also appeared in plays, two of which were written by J. D. Douglas (Black Heroes and JA Story).