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From Kingston's August Town,  Duane Stephenson is more than just a reggae singer. His work exhibits the versatility of many of music's greatest artists in the pop realm; mixing lyrics that address social ills, romance and global issues with unique phrasing, potent hooks and melodic changes – all delivered in an extremely nimble tenor that wakes the soul.

A recent collaboration is an uptempo, inspiring ballad, “Better Tomorrow” written with Jamaican mega-producer Handel Tucker whose hits include those for Maxi Priest, Diana King, Patra, Shaggy and The Fugees.  This is a fine-tuned, multi-faceted gemstone with a soothing melody, soaring chord changes and lush vocal arrangements that echo African song structure and a forceful hook that reminds us "Better Days will come one day" with the punchline: "for the show is never done, til' the final songs been sung."

An accompanying video is directed by Ras Kassa the Guru whose credits include acclaimed work with Damian Marley, Sean Paul, Richie Spice & Gyptian. The illustrative lyrical storytelling of Duane Stephenson provides fertile ground for Ras Kassa's forward-thinking, unique gift in crafting scenes that illustrate the trials individuals face in life.

As it relates to the current conditions that people face globally  Duane explains, "To Me 'Better Tomorrow' is relevant especially coming out of the year that we had last year, and this year hasn't started much better.  If you tend to reflect on what is happening in Japan, New Zealand, all of these places, The last thing we need is somebody reminding us how bad things are.  It is just another step in the healing process."

Duane Stephenson's  album BLACK GOLD (released in September 2010) held the #1 position for three weeks and has remained in the top ten on the Jamaica Music Countdown chart for months. The album's first single, "Rescue Me" a collaboration with Gramps Morgan has been in the top ten on reggae charts globally reaching the #1 spot throughout 2011.
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These songs are written with originality and profound intention as Duane explains, "When we do an album, we do music that people can relate to because any situation you find yourself in, chances are someone else has found themselves in that situation. It is real life the real life emotions come out, that is how it is."

His debut recording, FROM AUGUST TOWN released on Cannon/VP Records and produced by reggae maestro and saxophonist Dean Fraser was heralded by Billboard magazine as one of six albums, "collectively galvanizing a roots reggae revival." cited the album as "undoubtedly a highlight of not just 2008, but perhaps the past few years."

Dean Fraser collaborated on BLACK GOLD as a producer, creating ample content that exemplifies his legendary career as a saxophonist, music director and producer with credits on over 1,000 albums and thousands of tour hours logged.   Duane began working with Dean as a solo artist after 10 years as a leader of the group To-Isis.   Duane Stephenson's work as a songwriter for other artists is also part of his collaboration experience, compositions for Tarrus Riley, Luciano, Jah Cure are also part of his repertoire.

The album's current single, "Sufferer's Heights" brings up reggae's most honest cultural tones, issues of social justice and "real talk" as  Duane's stunning voice, with it's rich tone and diverse range is supported by multi-octave choral vocals, rising to new levels of consciousness, urging us to take stock in what we have and respect the needs of the under-served. His lyrics ask:  "Don't have a thing to give to the poor, you got a little, but you still want more.  You say it can't get no worse?   In a sufferer's heights, poor people go to bed with no shelter, them can't find no love."  And the illustrative, "dem can't get no dinner, and pure old clothes they dress up inna."

Duane wrote “A Step for Mankind” with The Wailers to benefit the United Nations World Food Programme. The track has become the anthem for global hunger eradication and is featured on Oniric Records' Solutions for Dreamers: Season 3 which directly benefits the World Food Programme (WFP), the song is a call to action for everyone to stand up against hunger and truly help mankind take a step in the right direction.  His work with the WFP continues through direct advocacy, awareness and outreach on the WFP fundraising site and as part of live concert performances, where funds are gathered and benefit directly to World Food Programme efforts in Ethiopia.

Listen to Duane Stephenson's Music

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August Town


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