Engineer Rorey Baker honoured by JaRIA award - First Jamaican honour excites Grammy winner
Engineer Rorey Baker is beyond excited about being singled out by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) as one of the recipients of its 2021 Honour Awards. He will be officially handed his award at a ceremony scheduled for Sunday, February 28, one of the highlights of the annual Reggae Month activities.
“When I got the call in December, I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear, and afterwards I got it in writing via email. I am honoured,” an extremely pleased Baker told The Gleaner.
Baker and Shane Brown, who just happens to be his good friend, are the two recording engineers being recognised during Reggae Month for their extraordinary impact on the reggae industry. “I felt really good because I have never gotten a local award before. So it’s great to be recognised among my peers,” he explained.
When quizzed if he had shared the good news, his reaction was immediate. “What yuh talking about, man? Ah blast it out all over!” he shouted. “Throughout the years, ah see the engineers that I look up to receiving this award, people like Bulby York, Fatta Marshall and Syl Gordon. I remember calling Bulby to congratulate him and he said ‘Is you next, yuh know’. And then to be receiving it the same time as Shane who is mi bona fide friend. Shane taught me a lot and when he went on tour with Shaggy, before I start touring, he would recommend to Miss Marley that I sit in for him as the engineer at Tuff Gong where he worked.”
Baker, since starting his career in the mid-’90s as a trainee engineer at The Mixing Lab recording studio, under the mentorship of Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, has worked on several Grammy-nominated and also Grammy-winning projects. He is credited on dozens of single, EP and album productions from a wide range of musical genres, and has been involved in major productions both locally and internationally with artistes, including Wyclef Jean, Maxi Priest, No Doubt, Madonna, Shaggy, Jimmy Cliff, Beenie Man, Sean Paul, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, Lady Saw, UB40, and Cherine Anderson.
“For nine consecutive years, I have been on a Grammy-nominated album, either as engineer or co-producer. These include Sly and Robbie’s Friends, which was my first Grammy as a 22-year-old when the album won the Reggae Grammy in 1999; Rocksteady by No Doubt, Halfway Tree by Junior Gong and Sean Paul’s Dutty Rock,” Baker shared.
He has also been nominated for the JUNO award on a number of occasions and has released an album titled Kids Reggae, which was designed to introduce reggae to a younger generation. The musical compositions are done to traditional kids’ bible songs, and traditional Caribbean folk songs, and are meant to entertain while also educate.
But the accomplished engineer, who started his own record label, The Baker Productions, and with the assistance of Sly and Robbie, a recording studio and production company, One Pop Music, is really not caught up with awards and rewards. “I am very appreciative, and I feel good to make my mother proud, because once I decided that music was what I wanted, she supported me 100 per cent. And when I felt like quitting, both she and Sly would tell me to stick to my passion. The passion for work comes first and everything else comes after. It is important that am contributing in a meaningful way to this great body of musical work out of Jamaica,” an introspective Baker said.
His musical footprints and legacy are important. “I hear so much about persons like Ernest Hookim and Steven Stanley and I wonder what will be said about me. To get a reward or award, the process starts with putting in good work,” he emphasised.
Still on the theme of gratitude, Baker recalled where it all started. “I have to name the persons who opened the doors for me, such as Handel Tucker, who was the first person to take me to a studio. Growing up, they said I was going to be either a politician, a preacher or a musician, because I played the drums naturally, and I even made a radio station that my three neighbours could hear. Then there was Honeyboy Martin who opened the door for me with Roy Francis (owner of Mixing Lab) and, of course, Sly and Robbie. I really wish Honeyboy Martin were alive to witness all of this,” he concluded.