Artiste stands strong, survives the odds
Tennesia Malcolm, Gleaner Writer
His is one of the most distinctive voices in dancehall. The singjay, whose pairing with producer Jeremy Harding in 1997 brought forth his breakout hit, Heads High, has remained relevant over the past 13 years.
Today, surrounded by positive influences in the form of music veteran Mikie Bennett and his own Forever Blessed crew - Natel, the Jamaican Michael Jackson and Dancer Boricia - Mr Vegas seems to be in it for the long haul.
"I will just keep doing music, and whatever happens, I just leave that to destiny," he said.
Destiny has brought him face-to-face with a Mikie Bennett project, My Brother's Keeper, which was borne out of the tragedy which struck Haiti on January 12. The song, though a direct response to the earthquake, speaks to a greater humanity where people are willing to go the extra mile for one another.
'my brother's keeper'
Written by Bennett, My Brother's Keeper has Vegas as executive producer with vocals by himself along with Chevelle Franklyn, Natel, Bunny Rugs and Cherine Anderson, among others.
And even as his popular Gallis continues to receive great airplay, Mr Vegas has had the opportunity to lend his vocals to Bring It, the official International Cricket Council 20/20 song, along with Trinidad and Tobago's Fay-Ann Lyons.
"I don't know how much longer the people are gonna accept me," said the singer. "The motivation is there cause I'm around people like Mikie Bennett and Natel, my co-manager Leslie Cooney, my kids. That's my main motivation right now to continue."
But there was a time in the not-too-distant past when the crooner was ready to pack it all up and walk away.
"I was just around the wrong people. At one point, I was really sick. I had acid reflux and pericarditis. I was in so much pain and I was just around people who cared little about my pain. I think it was more about the artiste and what he could bring to the table."
The artiste goes on to tell of horrors involving him having to overdose on pain medication in order for the show to go on.
Then came deliverance in the form of I Am Blessed, a song with its hook coming straight from the walls of the church and one which appealed to every age demographic. It propelled him back to relevance and saw him enjoying the most popularity he has had since his breakout hit more than a decade earlier.
"I wanted to retire but because I Am Blessed came out, I had to be promoting it," he said.
"After all," he added, "I still have a family to feed."
helping young artistes
He also has young artistes like Brown Sugar, who he has taken under his wings and hopes to guide to a successful career, which includes international marketability. "Sometimes I speak and I get in trouble," he said, "but some people don t understand. They see a song 'mashing up' Weddy Weddy and Passa Passa and they don't realise the song don't even pass airport," said Vegas, explaining that having clout on the international market is of utmost importance, as that is what brings income to the country.
Speaking to his presence on the global scene, Vegas, who left the island last Thursday to perform at an Indian parade in New York, said, "I am doing okay. It's not the best because of the economic climate, but I can survive."