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No Grammy, but Maxi Priest remains thankful

Published:Monday | March 15, 2021 | 12:13 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Interview with Maxi Priest
Interview with Maxi Priest

Grammy nominee Maxi Priest was quite excited at the possibility of officially changing that title to ‘winner’ when the announcement for Best Reggae Album was made at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards virtual ceremony, but he remains thankful for the honour to be named among the five recording artistes nominated in the category.

Priest told The Gleaner, “I really want to say thanks to each and every one of the musicians who worked on my album. We weren’t creating something specifically to achieve anything more than appreciation for what we have done but of course anything that comes along with it, is welcomed because then it only increases the opportunity as well as others. And the same has been done by Toots or any other artistes, by winning the Grammy Award, as I said before, it’s an achievement for all of us, and when we all truly believe that, that is when we shall overcome and achieve what we are trying to achieve which is success and recognition across the world for our culture,” Priest said.

This is the reggae singer’s third nomination with his album It All Comes Back To Love, which was released in late 2019. He earned his first Best Reggae Album nomination in 1994 for Fe Real, and again in 1997 for Man with the Fun.

“Noting the list of categories, I am not sure if we are going forward or backwards because other genres have taken precedence over our genre of music and it pains my heart. Other than that, I continue to give thanks; to all those that have been supporting the career, because it is a journey and the race is not for the swift, it’s for those who can endure. So, let’s do this again!”

Known for singing reggae with a fusion of R&B, jazz and soul, the London-born reggae vocalist is passionate about the standing of the genre as a globally accepted genre. He pointed out that “in the scheme of things, thinking today is going to be probably the only other time that reggae has been on any kind of level showing as any other genre. Using Bob Marley as an example. Here’s a reggae artiste who has done one of the biggest songs of all time, but yet it does not give us the position, where the genre of reggae music can be looked at, the same as every other music. That’s weird.”

He expressed that local music practitioners have been consistent with paying homage to the foundation singers and songwriters like Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder, among others, for years but that reggae “cannot be respected and recognised - where the root of rapping comes from - to say it deserves solidified recognition like R&B and Hip Hop get differently.”

“When you can see somebody like Stevie Wonder call and congratulate me, but yet we don’t have a solidified recognition of our genre of music, something must criminally wrong,” he continued.

The Just A Little Bit Longer reggae hitmaker, in an episode of the Grammys At Home series, gave viewers an inside look into his Jamaican residence where he will be tuning into the ceremony, which was presented in a virtual format and can be streamed live on the awards official website.

“Life is full of curved balls. I am a child of God, and as a young black man I am used to so many; even when the going is good, there are curved balls. I have adjusted to that, not foolishly, and not callously, but I do what makes sense to do, and sacrifice to do, because I am not here just for myself. I am a representation of my people,” he continued.