Barbara Ellington, Public Affairs Editor
Following on the heels of a successful Super Bowl hit commercial, a second Grammy win, and sentiments of gratitude from his homeland, singer/actor/songwriter Jimmy Cliff left the island last Friday to embark on his monthlong tour of Asia in March. The tour, which kicks off in Indonesia on March 1, will end in Australia on March 30. The concerts in Japan are almost all sold out.The tour will take Cliff and a Jamaican eight-member band, as well as an engineer and production staff, to cities in Asia and Australia, including Tokyo, Osaka, Adelaide, New Caledonia, New Plymouth, Cairns, Singapore, The Philippines, Melbourne, Indonesia, and more. In an exclusive interview with The Gleaner last Thursday, Cliff and his band, all graduates of the Jamaica School of Music, listened to seven tracks from his latest demo CD, prior to selecting some for the tour repertoire. And what a selection!
The still unnamed songs run the gamut of Cliff's textured, dulcet tones and wide-ranging lyrical artistry.
Track Number 6, Here I Am, is everyone's favourite, followed closely by Stand Tall Soldier and Lifeline (all working titles only). Here I Am resonates as a number that one could associate with the likes of The Beatles or Sting, and the militant reggae rhythm of Stand Tall Soldier will have his audiences rocking. Still, Cliff says he will, "perform a mix of old and new as well as tracks from the Grammy-winning CD and, of course, the Super Bowl song, Come on Get Happy". The typical length of his performance is 90 minutes, but he said encores can run an additional 15-30 minutes.
"I have played for three hours in the past," he said. Cliff is excited about the band and revealed that, except for the saxophonist/trumpet player, and vocalist, all are new. With the gruelling schedule ahead, The Gleaner asked Cliff how he maintains his diet and fitness on tour. The extraordinarily agile 64-year-old got down on the floor of his control room to demonstrate several push-ups in quick succession and shared that he exercises for an hour every morning while touring and eats only fresh fruits, vegetables and fish.
"With all that's happening in the global food industry these days, I have to be careful what I eat. I also try to get as much rest as possible," he said.