Honour Awards - Sean Paul Henriques: The humble giant of Jamaican music
"The steps that I took to get here, I wouldn't change a thing about it. Some of them were very bad, some were excellent; but I wouldn't change a thing because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."Those were the words of internationally acclaimed artiste Sean Paul Henriques, as he reflected on his career. The 43-year-old entertainer is the winner of the 2016 Gleaner Honour Award in the category Entertainment (Special Award) for his contribution to the music industry.
Born Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques, the charismatic artiste gained international fame in 2004 when his second album, Dutty Rock, copped the Grammy Award for Reggae Album of the Year. Since then, the artiste has maintained a strong presence in the music industry and is still one of the most sought-after reggae and dancehall artistes out of Jamaica. Last year alone, Sean Paul had three number-one songs on the Billboard Hot 100, including a collaboration with international superstar Sia. That single, Cheap Thrills, was such a huge hit that it reached peak position in more than 15 countries, including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. It also earned Sean Paul another Grammy nomination in the Best Pop Duo/Group Performance category for the 2016 Grammy Awards to be announced next month.
Wanted to do what he loved
A modest Sean Paul told The Gleaner that although he is grateful for all that he has accomplished throughout his career, he never expected much, he simply wanted to do what he loved.
"I never set out to achieve what I am today. I didn't know how big of a star I would be, so to speak. I didn't really have that as a plan or anywhere in mind," he said. "When you start write a song, you don't think, 'Oh, I want it to win a Grammy, or whatever'. It's more about the joy and people enjoying it and getting the same type of feeling as you. So I didn't envision all those other things."
Although he did not set out to become a big star and prefers to stay out of the spotlight when he's not on stage, the artiste has accepted that he is someone people look up to and prides himself on inspiring others.
"Behind the scenes, people probably don't see the amount of money I spent to get where I am in terms of studio time, in terms of travelling, and time itself that I invested. It's a lot and there are sometimes things that come up, like red tape in the business, but I have no regrets. I think that life is to be lived and so I always encourage people to live."
'It's about time for me'
On the matter of life, the entertainer and his wife are gearing up to welcome their baby boy in the next few weeks, and while most new fathers get scared at the thought of having another human being to take care of for the rest of their lives, Sean Paul is excited. "When people ask me how I feel about it, I say, 'It's about time for me'. The wife is doing well. We been through a few things. We were trying for a while and so now it's at the final stages and we just keeping fingers crossed and praying that everything goes well," he said.
"For the past four years now, I've had the joy of having a niece and a nephew and they have changed my life. I'm very excited and the pressures of being a parent, I think, will be easily washed away with the joy that the kid brings."
Spending lots of time with his family, especially with his booming career, will be challenging, but Sean Paul believes he's more than ready. "When we got married, me and my wife knew exactly what it was and so we planned for things. We affi just do it, family first. I've been a father to other people but this I will definitely have to be more involved in, so I have to plan out my career a lot more strategic than I have been," he explained. "I'm not taking a break from my career, no time, no day (laughs). This year I've planned the tours already and we know what we doing from early out. My first tour is in April and my son is to be born in February. I have a lot of music recorded that I'm about to release this year."
Having already achieved more global success than the average entertainer from Jamaica, Sean Paul now has his sights set on securing longevity as he hopes to create a legacy to be left behind long after he puts up his microphone.
"Longevity is my thing. The first time I wrote a song, the first thing I said to myself was, 'How am I going to write another one like this that people appreciate and enjoy?' That's always been on mind. I have a saying that I learnt from my mom that says, 'It's harder to maintain than to obtain', which means it's easy to get things but to maintain those things is a day-to-day process that you need to focus on more than anything else. I want to maintain, that's my main objective."