Barrington Levy: A Legend in the World of Reggae and Dancehall Music
Barrington Ainsworth Levy, a name that resonates vibrantly in the echelons of reggae and dancehall music, was born on April 30, 1964, in Clarendon, Jamaica. As a legendary artist, Levy has left an indelible mark on the music industry with his soulful voice and unforgettable tunes. This article explores the life, career, and achievements of Barrington Levy, a figure who truly embodies the spirit and rhythm of reggae and dancehall music.
The Early Years
The journey of Barrington Levy from a small-town boy to an international music icon is nothing short of inspiring. Born into a humble family in Clarendon, Jamaica, Levy showed a keen interest in music from a young age. His cousin, Everton Dacres, became his early music partner, and the duo formed a band called the Mighty Multitude. Their first single, “My Black Girl,” released in 1977, marked the beginning of Levy’s musical journey.
The Solo Journey Begins
The following year, at the tender age of 14, Levy embarked on his solo career with the release of “A Long Time Since We Don’t Have No Love.” Despite the single’s commercial failure, Levy’s performances at Jamaican dancehalls were highly anticipated events that drew large crowds. His talent did not go unnoticed. Renowned record producers Junjo Lawes and Hyman Wright spotted him during one of these performances and decided to collaborate with the young artist.
Rise to Stardom
Working with Lawes and Wright, Levy recorded several chart-topping singles with the Roots Radics band, including “Al Yah We Deh,” “Looking My Love,” “Englishman,” “Wedding Ring Aside,” and “Collie Weed.” These hits firmly established his career and marked the onset of his journey to stardom. Levy’s subsequent releases, including “Shine Eye Girl,” “Wicked Intention,” “Jumpy Girl,” “Skylarking,” “Disco Music,” “Reggae Music,” and “When You’re Young and in Love,” were also commercial successes that further solidified his reputation in the industry.
Collaborations and Performances
Levy’s melodious voice and dynamic stage presence made him a popular choice for duets. He recorded several hit duets with artists such as Toyan, Jah Thomas, and Trinity. His performances at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1980 and 1981 were unforgettable moments that further highlighted his musical prowess. Even though albums were not a prevalent medium in Jamaica at the time, Levy released four albums before 1980: Shaolin Temple, Bounty Hunter, Shine Eye Gal, and Englishman. The latter, in particular, was a critically acclaimed record that significantly boosted Levy’s international fame.
The International Phenomenon
By the release of his 1980 album, Robin Hood, Levy had become one of Jamaica’s biggest stars. His fame was not limited to his homeland, though. Levy’s popularity was growing internationally, especially in the United Kingdom. His debut as a producer came with a rare 1981 showcase album titled Run Come Ya, which was released on the Canadian Puff Records label.
Levy continued to churn out hit singles like “Mary Long Tongue,” “In the Dark,” “Too Poor,” “I Have a Problem,” “Eventide Fire a Disaster,” “I’m Not in Love,” “You Have It,” “Love of Jah,” “Under Mi Sensi,” “Tomorrow Is Another Day,” “Robberman,” “Black Roses,” “My Woman,” and “Money Move.” His success earned him the Best Vocalist prize at the British Reggae Awards in 1984.
Despite slowing down his output in the late 1980s, Levy continued to perform and record regularly. He also made efforts to break into the American market with the Barrington album in 1993. While the album didn’t provide him the breakthrough he desired, Levy continued to release periodic hits in Jamaica and occasionally in the UK.
Collaborations with Rap Artists
In 1998, Levy released Living Dangerously, which included collaborations with renowned artists like Snoop Dogg and Bounty Killer. The album was one of Levy’s most successful releases since the start of the 1990s and helped him gain some recognition in the US. Levy also featured on two singles by rapper Shyne and on a track for drum and bass artist Aphrodite’s 2000 album Aftershock.
Recent Works and Recognition
Levy’s career has continued to flourish in the 21st century. In 2013, he released “Love the Way She Love,” a collaboration with Mr. Vegas, and announced an acoustic album featuring new songs and reworkings of old songs. This album, Acousticalevy, received a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album in 2016. In 2021, Levy featured on the Gorillaz track “Meanwhile” alongside Jelani Blackman, further demonstrating his versatility and relevance in the contemporary music scene.
Barrington Levy is not just a music icon, but also a proud father. His son, Krishane, followed in his father’s footsteps and chose a career in music. Krishane is currently signed to Atlantic Records, a testament to the musical talent that runs in the family. As a devoted Rastafarian, Levy’s faith has significantly influenced his music and life philosophy.
Legacy and Influence
Barrington Levy’s contribution to reggae and dancehall music has been immense. His music has touched many hearts and continues to inspire new generations of artists. His journey from a small-town boy to an international music icon is a testament to his talent, hard work, and dedication. As we groove to his soulful tunes, we must remember and appreciate the man behind the music – Barrington Levy, a true legend in the world of reggae and dancehall music.