Some four months after being seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident (his Honda Accord motor car collided with a taxi on Spanish Town Road in Kingston, Jamaica), Keith Morgan aka Junior Kelly is back on the road again as could be witnessed by his European fanbase during the singjay's recent tour in this part of the world. One of his shows, which took place at the Effenaar in Eindhoven on Saturday 30th March 2002, was attended by some 300 reggae fans, among them King Whittey and Pupa Chippie of Runn Sound, Danny Pepperseed of Ovadoze Movements and, of course, the Reggae Vibes crew.

Although it was at the beginning of the new millennium that Junior Kelly was catapulted into the reggae spotlight with his big hit tune titled "Love So Nice", he certainly isn't much of a newcomer. Since the mid eighties Junior Kelly has been active in the music business trying to establish himself as a recording artist. Born in Kingston 13, he was raised in Spanish Town together with his sister and three brothers. Music played an important role in his family. His grandfather and father both played the bamo, whilst his mother sang in church. His older brother, the late DJ Jim Kelly, practised music professionally as a popular member of the renown Killamanjaro soundsystem crew. Junior himself began singing at school concerts because, although he would later successfully incorporate dee-jaying into his style, he wanted to be a singer at first. At that time he was strongly inspired by Peter Tosh - regarded as the most militant member of the Wailers - and his brother Jim who was tragically killed when Junior was thirteen. It was through some of the connections that his brother made back in the early eighties, that Junior Kelly was given the opportunity to get into the recording studios. In 1985, at the age of seventeen, he recorded his debut single, "Over Her Body", for Michael Francis' "Neco Records", a local one man operation with few resources for adequate promotion. Although the single wasn't very successful, it was a start after all. Following in the footsteps of his brother he then began performing on a number of Jamaican soundsystems including Killamanjaro in order to develop his skills and talent and to gain more experience. Meanwhile Junior Kelly also tried to team up with various Jamaican producers, but it lasted until 1993 before his next single, the Stephen Marley produced "Give Them A Bly", appeared on the "Ghetto Youths" label. Two years later he recorded the controversial tune "Go to Hell" (which was banned from the airwaves in Jamaica) and in that very same year he also recorded two new tunes in New York entitled "Good Tidings" and "Hungry Days", both released on the "Front Page" label. The latter re-appeared in 2001 on Junior Kelly's acclaimed "Love So Nice" album.

Between 1996 and 1998 Junior Kelly kept a relatively low profile as he prefered to concentrate on his songwriting rather than exploit his talents by voicing riddims with over 20 or 30 different artists on it. The turning point in his musical career came in the summer of 1998 when he met producer Mickey D of "Penitentiary Records". He then recorded their two new singles, "What Will It Take" and "If Love So Nice". Especially the latter took off with a bang, shooting its way to the number one spot on the Jamaican music charts in just six weeks of its release. London based Jet Star immediately recognized Junior Kelly as an artist of great potential, one capable of taking the reggae world by storm. They released "If Love So Nice" alongside "What Will It Take" and "Rise" in the UK, all with notable success as each peaked in the top 10 of the Black Echoes Reggae chart. These singles were soon followed by Junior Kelly's debut album "Rise", which also sold very well. Since then three more albums were unleashed, including his most recent entitled "Conscious Voice". Now Junior Kelly has taken his place in the forefront of reggae's cultural messengers, anticipated and respected by fans with a bias towards cultural and authentic reggae.

Back to the Effenaar in Eindhoven. After being treated the a good selection of tunes by London's King Tubby's Hifi Soundsystem, actually a good warm up for things to come, the members of the In Di Coosh Band took the stage and started with a nice instrumental in order to check and balance the sound. Then the first lines of "Rise" leaped from the speakers and the dreadlocked singjay from Jamaica appeared on stage, immediately setting the pace with an energetic and powerful version of "Rise", a conscious message aimed primarily at the poor and exploited. After at first having encoutered some problems with the sound, the band and singer soon proved that they were in very good shape. The youthful backing band played surprisingly tight and the female backing singers were a fine addition to the singjay's vocal performance. Junior Kelly fully lived up to expectations. He possesses a powerful voice which, combined with the catchy melodies, seductive reggae riddims and lyrical content of his songs, makes this artist's show a must-attend event. Songs like "Juvenile", "Boom Draw", "Hungry Days", "Jewel Of The Night", "Sleep Last Night", "Jah Nuh Dead", "Clean Heart" and "Paradise" struck a chord of recognition with the enthousiastic reacting audience. Junior Kelly really tore things up with a very high-energy reggae set that climaxed with his big hit, "Love So Nice", actually the last song of an excellent showlist. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, he didn't came back on stage for the encore his fans were longing for. Then King Tubby's Hifi Soundsystem took over the proceedings, spreading real nice vibes for the next couple of hours.

Article: Mr. T. Photos: Teacher
Source : mediacom - Junior Kelly Biography


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