It's been nearly
15 years since that rich, impossibly sensitive voice first cast
it's spell on reggae fans with a reinterpretation of Simply Red's
"Lady In Red". Countless number one singles and albums later,
Sanchez delivers the aptly tilted "Simply Being Me", fifteen tracks
of brand-new originals and signature reinventions that are so
much more than covers. When Sanchez takes on a proven R&B hit,
he doesn't just rekindle the torch, he sets the airwaves on fire.
Born Kevin Anthony
Jackson, Sanchez grew up in the Stony Hill and Waterhouse sections
of Kingston, Jamaica. Like many of the island's vocal legends,
his first singling experience was in church, specifically St.
Catherine parish's Rehobth Epostlic Church. "I started at age
six," he recalls. "Then, I was drafted into Sunday School Choir
at 11." By 13, he was singing the leads and conducting the Junior
The lure of Jamaica's
night-long sound system dances eventually proved as powerful as
Sunday mornings at church. At nineteen, Sanchez became the selector
for the popular RAMBO Sound System, which "carried" top deejays
of the day; Flourgan, Daddy Lizard and Red Dragon. It was this
mic-rocking trinity that dubbed Kevin Jackson "Sanchez" after
he executed an overhead scissors kick during an impromptu game
of football (soccer), a feat associated with a popular South American
pro player of the same name. Jamaica's Sanchez displayed equal
skill in dancehall as the 'triple threat selector'. "I used to
select and chat on the mic at the same time, then even flip the
record over onto the version (dub) side and sing. I would create
havoc," he recalls. "I did everything - play, select, sing and
chat on the mic, until I got good people to run it."
Despite his success
with Rambo, Sanchez never let go of his dream to make it as a
singer, but Kingston's producers were flooded with hopefuls begging
for a chance on a studio mic. "I didn't know any producers and
every time I go to a studio to do some form of audition, they
would tell me to come back in three weeks time or whatever," he
recalls. "I kept going back and forth, but they were hearing so
many singers and deejays that another one never mean much." Finally,
he got a chance from Redman, who matched his new find to "Lady
In Red" and released the happy match in 1986 on his Redman International
Label. The tune went straight to number 18 on local charts.
"Then all those
people who told me to come back started asking me to sing this
and that," Sanchez recalls laughing. Among the top studio men
wanting to use that glorious instrument to create their own hits
were Winston Riley of the Techniques Label and Xterminator's Phillip
"Fatis" Burrell. A slew of number ones quickly took over Jamaican
radio and dance halls, then spread through Planet Jamaica, including
"Sad Song" for Techniques and "Loneliness" which was the biggest
song both locally and overseas during the '87 and '88 season,
earning Sanchez multiple awards. In '87 he took Singer of The
Year, Best New Artist, Best Song and even Best Dressed -an award
he won four years straight - thanks to the designing skills of
his wife, Monica Williams Jackson.
stopped since, and his unique and necessary presence continues
to sweeten the music, no matter what the current dancehall fashion.
His soaring Afro-erotic sound is both powerful and versatile,
a vehicle for devotion to God and girls alike. Hits like '88 "Sweetest
Girl" and "Impossible", '91-'92's "Bring Back The Love" and "I
Can't Wait", '94's "Missing You" and '95's "Praise Him", "Never
Dis The Man" and "Never Keeping Secrets" represent a fraction
of the numerous boomshots that keep this reare talent at the forefront
of the international reggae scene. So far, he's turned out a staggering
15 plus albums for King Jammy's, his son John John, Bobby Digital
and Sanchez himself (he procduced his '99 "Who Is This Man?" CD).
Those titles include '88's "Lonelieness", "Sweetest Girl" and
"Impossible"; '89's "Wild Sanchez", '89-'90's "Sanchez In Fine
Style" and '92-'92's "I Can't Wait", 91's "Bring Back The Love"
(for English producer Morris Jackson's World Records), ;91-'92's
"Number One", '93-'94's "Boom Boom Bye Bye (No, not THE Buju Banton
Tune): '95's "Praise Him"; '97's "Missing You": and '98's "Perilous
Being Me", his latest set is about "letting people know that you
don't have to be uptight," says the singer. "Just relax and be
yourself and let it flow. Some people try to be like Michael Jackson,
Buju Banton or Shabba Ranks, I think it's better to be yourself
and the title conveys this album's theme. I love to deal with
all aspects of life, that's just Sanchez. I love to cover upful
songs, the songs that we Jamaicans hardly listen to because we
don't listen to soul or classic pop. We love the boom boom and
yaga yaga, but that's not good to meditate on and it's not good
for the kids."
The title track
was peened by Fitz "Favoirte" Livermore, the bassist for Snachez's
Chronic backing band. "HE's worked with me over the years," says
Sanchez. "He knows the songs I sing, what I'm really getting at,
so he writes what he thinks would fit me." A nearly unrecognizable
transformation of Brittany Spear's "Sometimes" seems just as tailored
to the personal Sanchez touch, as does "Pretty Girl" written by
Sanchez in collaboration with sax legend Dean Frazier and Livermore.
"Burning Up", also by Livermore features Jamaican MC Tony Bronco
delivering a completely creditable rap, stateside style.
"Back AT One" gets that special reggaematical Sanchez treatment
as does Donel Jones' "Where I Wanna Be". "Jah Calling", "Hands
Of Time", "Where I Want To Be", "Forever & Ever" and "I Need To
Know", tap into Sanchez's deeply soulful nature. "Need" is Sanchez's
personal favorite of the collection because "it talks about the
struggles of my mom, how she used to struggle and still not getting
there," he says. "But it's dealing with mothers as a whole and
also fathers who are struggling on their own with their kids.
It's still going on. This song comes at the right time. If you
listen, you'll know where I'm coming from".
cover of singer D. Walks big 60's hit in the UK encapsulates a
neat bit of Jamaican music history. Walks, who is also the father
of hot contemporary deejay Zebra, also produced Sanchez's interpretation
here. "I know of artists who I would say have a better voice,
but they have one song or one album and you don't hear nothing
more," says Sanchez. "Maybe I'm blessed. I love what I do. I enjoy
what I do."
Since he moved
to Miami in the Fall of '99, Sanchez has shared the stage with
Product G&B and Donell Jones, paving his way to R&B/Hip-Hop audiences.
"That's my greatest wish, not to throw away reggae but to get
a different experience and another side of music," he says. "If
you're a musician you can't play one type of music, you have to
spread your wings and be versatile".
by: Elena Oumano
To Artists Page