Graham Reid | | 3 min read
British reggae star Maxi Priest came through the old soul music channel of the church, that's where he first started singing . . . so it's no surprise that there has always been a lot of soul in his style, which accounts for him singing with the likes of Roberta Flack and having greater succes in the US than just about any other British reggae act.
“First and foremost, I’m from a church background,” he says. “My mother, a missionary, is where I would hear the beautiful sound of gospel, mixed in with reggae music that my older brothers played around the house. My sisters were into the Jackson Five, The Beatles, Al Green, etc.
“From an early age my family always encouraged me… I listened to all kinds of vocalists… Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Dennis Brown… without realizing it, I was developing my craft. I was taught never to limit myself – that’s why you’ll always find different styles of music on my albums, and a range of producers to bring out different aspects of my creativity.”
His most recent album Easy to Love entered the Billboard reggae charts at number two. The album features Sly and Robbie, he covers a John Mayer song Gravity and he keeps lovers rock close to his heart -- although the final track, None of Jah Jah Children, dates right back to Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus in the Seventies.
So on the occasion of his already successful new album we flicked Maxi Priest our Famous Elsewhere Reggae Questionnaire.
The first piece of music which really affected you was . . .
Drink Milk , Justin Hinds and the Dominoes
Your first role models in music were . . .
Lennon or Jagger, Bob Marley or Burning Spear, dancehall or raggamuffin, Michael Jackson or Jay-Z?
If music was denied you, your other career choice would be . . .
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear are . . .
War by Bob Marley, A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke, God Watches Over Us by Maxi Priest
Any interesting, valuable or just plain strange musical memorabilia at home?
Picture of my father and mother are the most valuable memorabilia at home.
The best book on reggae music or reggae musicians you have read is . . .
Bob Marley - His Musical Legacy by Jeremy Collingwood.
If you could get on stage with anyone it would be . . . (And you would play?)
Bob Marley playing Jamming
The three films you'd insist anybody watch because they might understand you better are . . .
Will Smith - I Am A Legend, The last Nelson Mandela movie - Long Walk to Freedom
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Last vinyl by Joe, name of the album is - My Name is Joe . Latest download Chronixx album - Dread and Terrible
One song, royalties for life, never have to work again. The song by anyone, yourself included, which wouldn't embarrass you would be . . .
My choice of song is chosen from the Top 10 songs that still generate high revenue through royalties is the song Every Breath You Take, by Sting
The poster, album cover or piece of art could you live with on your bedroom forever would be . . .
Burning Spear - Freeman Album
You are allowed just one reggae box set, and it is . . .
I would create my own consisting of Studio One : Dennis Brown, Alton Ellis, John Holt, Johnny Osbourne, Heptones, Freddie McGregor, Burning Spear, Marcia Griffiths, Ken Boothe, Slim Smith
Motown and R&B : Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight, Al Green, Etta James, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross
70s Reggae: Toots and the Maytals, Big Youth, Jimmy Cliff, Abyssinians, Mighty Diamonds, Third World, Inner Circle, Jacob Miller, Sly and Robbie, Fredlocks, U Roy
80s 90s dancehall: Shabba Ranks, Damian Marley, Buju Banton, Shaggy, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Lieutenant Stitchie, Papa San, Philip Levi, Super Cat
80s classic disco : Chaka Khan, Chic, Jocelyn Brown, Heatwave, Kool and the Gang, Rose Royce, The Tramps, The Emotions, ABBA, Earth Wind and Fire
David Bowie sang, “Five years, that's all we've got . . .” You would spend them where, doing . . .?
I would spend my time in this beautiful world that God has created for us all, and do exactly what I'm doing now. Doing what I love to do.
And finally, in the nature of press conferences in Japan, “Can you tell me please why this is your best album ever?”
I feel this is my best album today 'Easy To Love' because not only is it my latest album but I feel I've matured, and I'm much more experienced in what I do, and how I do things. I'm much more relaxed which has allowed me stand back and enjoy and appreciate my abilities in my gift, and in this beautiful art of music.