Ken Boothe enjoys resurgence - turns to merchandising
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Almost 50 years since he recorded his first single in 1966, reggae crooner Ken Boothe is still going strong.
Songs from his latest album, Journey, are said to be going well and there is news of a deal with clothing brand Cooyah to be launched soon.
Phillip Clarke, who has been managing the singer's career for the past three years, reports that several songs from Journey, released on Boothe's own label Chadstar Productions in 2013, has been making an impact globally with sales strongest in Europe and the United States.
"Online sales of the singles from the album have been doing well since the release date with several hundred copies being sold on a monthly basis," Clarke said.
"The trends indicate that This Much Is True, New World Order and Love In Your Eyes are the best performers in this respect."
The album is being distributed through MondoTunes.com, a company that retails music through an estimated 700 online outlets.
MondoTunes distributed Sly and Robbie's Grammy-nominated album Reggae Connection.
"It's been good you know," said Boothe, who put the success down to the work put into promoting the album.
"It's all about promotion. Everybody needs it. The response has been good, everybody likes it. Journey has a good message. It's been 51 years now (since he began recording) and I wrote the song to highlight my journey," said the singer, who in 2003 was awarded the Order of Distinction for his contribution to the entertainment industry.
Of New World Order, one of the most popular songs on the album, Boothe said the song was written to reflect the state of the world today.
"The leaders of the world need to have a conscience," he said. "The song tells the leaders to take a look inside themselves."
The album also features a cover of True, the Spandau Ballet hit from the 1980s, and Can't Turn You Loose, a cover of the Otis Redding original Boothe said he had always wanted to do.
The success of the album aside, the 66-year-old singer is about to have his own line of T-shirts, caps and similar items though a partnership struck between himself and Homer Bain, founder of the Cooyah brand.
"The designs are being worked on as we speak," Bain told The Gleaner. He said the designs will include images of the singer on T-shirts and embroidered images on caps.
Bain explained that the partnership was all about celebrating Boothe's legacy as one of Jamaica's great entertainers.
"We are going to create a demand (for his merchandise)," Bain said, alluding to the great demand in Europe and Japan for Jamaica's vintage culture.
He cited the recent success that Cooyah has had with Tarrus Riley, whose line of merchandise has been doing well, due in part to the singer's reconnection with reggae's roots.
Riley's latest album, which is a throwback to old-school, 'one-drop' reggae, was recently the No. 1 reggae album on the Billboard charts, Bain said.
"We are going to do the same thing with Ken. We are going to make Jamaica proud of its culture once more."