March + April 2019
Well-known and idolized in Jamaica, Johnny Clarke gave fame to dancehall in the same manner as Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. Talented singer, ingenious remixer, composer but also a pianist in his spare time (he appears on many Jamaican artists’ album such as Ossie Hibberts and Jah Stich). Clarke’s hallmark is a supple and smooth voice, mind-blowing and spectral music, and all with a palpable spirituality. From 1975 to 1980, Clarke records galore for "Striker" Lee, one hit arrives after another and the Jamaican audiences, known to be changeable and demanding, praise him to the skies. He finds a good recipe to alternating covers (Abyssinians, Burning Spear) and also original compositions themselves, all the pieces set to music by The Aggravators, the renowned studio orchestra, and mixed by a certain King Tubby. Some of his songs are now indelibly imprinted within reggae history (« African Roots », « African People », « They never love », Dread is Dread », « In the roots of the ghetto »...). Since then, numerous reprints and compilations recount Clarke’s exceptional production. He remains an inescapable singer, with a smooth and frail voice that characterizes old reggae. His stage appearances demonstrate his talent, with a greater mastery than ever before and an unaltered voice.