dancehall pioneer has a sound all his own. From his humble beginnings in Kingston,
Jamaica, Levy slowly worked his way up to becoming an international sensation.
In the formative years, Levy and his cousin Everton Dacres sang as the
Mighty Multitude and recorded "My Black Girl" in 1977. A year later, the duo
broke up and Levy joined Byron Lee and the Dragonaires as a backing vocalist. "A Long
Time Since We Have No Love" was Levys first solo recorded tune in 1978.
Well-known producer Henry "Junjo" Lawes discovered Levy
singing on a local sound-system and, with New-York-based producer Hyman "Jah
Life" Wright, quickly brought Levy to Channel One where he worked with the Channel
One All-Star Band (the foundation of the soon-to-be Roots Radics), and young engineer
Scientist. Success was imminentLevy gave a rousing performance at Reggae Sunsplash
1980. With his fourth single, "Collie Weed," Levy was the dancehall poster
child. The first album from the Lawes/Levy camp was "Bounty Hunter" which
showcased hits "Shine Eye Gal" and "Moonlight Lover."
Three more albums followed that were quite successful and gave
listeners a change from the more serious Rasta-inspired lyrics that came before. Levy was
light-hearted, talented, and his voice blended well on collaborative tracks. "Black
Rose," "Money Move," "Prison Oval Rock" were some of the singles
that garnered much recognition, and the album "Robin Hood" affirmed that Levy
was the biggest singer on the island.
International recognition came in the mid-1980s when Levy linked
up with Paul "Jah Screw" Love, former selector for U-Roys King Sturgav
Sound System. Together, they did "Under Mi Sensi," which held top positions in
the reggae charts for weeks. "Murderer" soon followed for producer Jah Life, and
"Here I Come" with Jah Screw was an international success through a deal with
London Records. Levy started appearing in UK television spots.
The success was fleeting, though, and Levy endured a two-year
slump. He continued to perform at Sunsplash as a top attraction from 1987 until 1995;
however, it was in the early 1990s when he did the tune "Shes Mine" for
Black Scorpio that he got back in the game. His Bob Andy cover of "Too
Experienced" with Jah Screw got him signed to the Island Records subsidiary, Mango,
in 1991. "Divine" was the first Levy album released on that label to favorable
In the United States, Levy signed to MCA Records and released
"Barrington" in 1993, produced by Lee Jaffe, but the relationship with MCA was
rocky and Levy soon left. It was the 1994 album, "Duets" released by Ras Records
in the US (and Greensleeves in the UK as "Barrington Levys DJ
Counteraction") that brought groundbreaking sounds to older tunes. He collaborated
with Beenie Man on "Two Sounds" and "Under Mi Sensi;" with Bounty
Killer on "Living Dangerously;" Spragga Benz on "Dont Run Away;"
and Cutty Ranks on "Looking My Love." Producer Jah Screw was tuned into the
jungle movement sweeping the UK at the time, and remixed the tracks accordingly.
More recently, P.Diddy protégé, rapper Shyne, featured Levy on
the Bad Boy label track "Bad Boyz" in 2000. They used the "Murderer"
chorus behind a hip-hop beat and it was highly successful in the urban radio market.
Barrington Levy has had his fair share of career ups and downs,
but hes never lost his talented touch and classic sound. Overall, has been an
international steady force in the dancehall and is still unmatched in his trademark sound
and stage performances. As SNWMF audiences in 2002 can attest, you wont want to miss
Barrington Levy live and direct!