Sat | Sep 26, 2020

Papa Michigan still on a Festival Song high - Working on book and EP

Published:Monday | August 10, 2020 | 12:00 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Papa Michigan
Papa Michigan

There was nothing that could have prepared veteran deejay Papa Michigan for a call from a manager at the National Housing Trust (NHT) in New Kingston with a somewhat curious request.

The Jamaica Festival Song Competition finalist – and eventual second-place winner - was asked to come to the office, not to deal with any house-related matters, but to sing his song, Jamaica Dance.

In the true spirit of Jamaica Festival, two departments at the NHT were involved in a friendly rivalry over two of the songs, one touting first-timer Papa Michigan and the other bringing two-time winner Nazzleman.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Papa Michigan told The Gleaner. “It was a big thing. A lot of people were talking about it. I didn’t know that people would have been so receptive. I got videos every day from people doing the dance. Even little children sent me their videos.”

Papa Michigan, who rose to popularity in the ‘70s as part of the duo Michigan and Smiley, said he was “feeling bubbly well” and revealed that he was confident of placing in the top three in the competition.

“Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora were in tune with what was happening, and despite everything going virtual, 2020 was a great and memorable year for Festival. One of my friends told me that he has 140 employees and all of them voted for me. Can you imagine that? Also, a doctor in Florida, Dr Alan Cunningham, texted me to say that he’s my campaign manager. Persons loved the dance move and they took on to the line that said ‘ forget about yuh troubles, bubble baby bubble’. I could feel the love from Jamaicans everywhere and overall, it was a good look. Thanks to all who voted,” he said.

Papa Michigan is now refocusing on other projects. He is working on an EP and also writing a book, because he says that he’s the best person to tell his story. The work is quite advanced.

“This is a project that is important to me and it is going very well. Hopefully, I can release this book by the end of the year and make 2020 even more special. Buju and I are the first DJs to enter the Festival Song Competition and we placed first and second, so that’s history right there, and with my book on the horizon, I am elated,” the Diseases hitmaker told The Gleaner. As it relates to the EP, that is simply a continuation of his life’s work, which is music.

“I have a lot of songs in my head and the plan is to do some nice, happy songs. I want to do songs on social issues, but in a different way. Just the other day, I saw some ladies who said to me, ‘Papa Michie, give we another dance song nuh,’ so that is a possibility. But this EP is in the final stages of production and it will be distributed by Tuff Gong International,” he said.

Born Anthony Fairclough, Papa Michigan scored several hits during the first wave of dancehall music in the late 1970s and ‘80s.

He and General Smiley are hailed for their signature style of toasting, which resulted in hits such as Rub a Dub Style, Vanity, and Nice Up the Dance.