Five Questions with Hezron
Soulful singer and songwriter, Hezron Clarke, is singularly focused on his mission and he has encapsulated its aim, goals and aspirations in M.O.A.M. (Man On A Mission) his critically acclaimed 2022 Tads Records album.
Hezron, who is no Johnny Come Lately, was the recipient of the Male Culture Artiste of the Year award at the Linkage Awards in New York in 2013 and he signalled his intent to make an indelible mark musically when he released his debut album, 2014’s The Life I Live(d), another Tads Record production. “Tads took a chance on me,” he says.
M.O.A.M. Man on a Mission has made inroads by topping reggae charts in Jamaica, New York and South Florida, securing two number-one singles along the way, namely Tik Tok I’m Coming and Save The Children, and has received recognition from no less an entity than the Grammy’s Press Play At Home series.
In January, Hezron, by special request, did an acoustic performance of the album’s title track, Man On A Mission, recorded in Kingston exclusively for the Grammy series. In the nearly five-minute video clip Hezron plays rhythm guitar and he is ably supported by Kenroy Mullings on lead guitar; Jerome ‘Spicy’ Battick (now deceased) on keyboards; with Jasino Bicknell and Katryna Chaplin providing harmonies.
Hezron, whose baritone is often compared to that of soul legends Sam Cooke, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, is one of the featured artistes on the Mother’s Day concert, Red Rose For Gregory on Sunday at Hope Gardens in St Andrew. The singer is in full preparation mode, making sure that he reaches his scheduled rehearsals on time and choosing the right songs to thrill his fans.
Five Questions had a quick chat with Hezron as he gets ready for the stage on Sunday.
1. Are you a fan of the ‘Cool Ruler’, Gregory Isaacs?
Gregory is definitely one of my singers. He is unique. For somebody who is so laidback to have that reggae kotch, he is as special as reggae music itself. When I was younger I would say he was boring, but as I grew older I was able to understand and appreciate the magic that is Gregory Isaacs.
2. Have you covered any of Gregory Isaacs’ songs?
In 2012, I was invited by Dean Fraser to be a part of a Gregory Isaacs project that he was working on. I covered the song, Top 10 and dem ask me to sing a piece of it on Sunday, and of course, I will be doing it as a tribute to Gregory.
3. Your 2022 album ‘M.O.A. M. Man On A Mission’ has been taking you into different spaces. What was your focus for this project?
The primary objective of the album is to restore Jamaican reggae music to a prominent place internationally. The single itself is about what everyday people go through, nurses, doctors, teachers, so called ‘ordinary people’ who have put their minds and wills together to do extraordinary things. But Man on a Mission is also about the obstacles that I have faced in the music business and in my personal life. I am telling myself, telling the world, that this man is on a mission and there’s no stopping him. And, for those who are interested, the album is available for sale on Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, and all digital platforms worldwide.
4. How did your Grammy presentation manifest itself?
The Grammy board asked me to do an acoustic performance of the song Man On A Mission and my team got the musicians and singers together and made it happen ... recorded it and sent it to them. My approach to the M.O.A.M. album was to utilise musical and lyrical qualities that I hear as the standard for Grammy consideration, hoping to get a Grammy nomination. I didn’t receive one, [but] to have been asked to record a performance that is posted on Grammy.com ... to receive that recognition is humbling. It shows me that vision, hard work and perseverance really do pay off.
5. What is the reaction of your overseas fan base to your new album?
For reasons beyond my control, I haven’t had the opportunity to perform overseas since the release of my new album. I received a five-year visa and that ran out just when the album was released, but as we speak, that matter is being worked on. I am re-applying or my green card, and as soon as that comes through, I will be seeing my fans in the US and Canada and Europe.
BRAWTA: What can fans expect on Sunday night?
I’m a soul man, so they can expect an all-out soulful performance ... the best that I can do in the time allotted. As they say, ‘When man on Earth has done his best, not even the angels in heaven can do more.’