'Father Earl' goes gospel
IF Ribby Chung and Chris Cargill were the up-front faces at Cactus and Asylum nightclubs, Earl 'Father Earl' Samuels was their silent partner. He kept the lid on when things threatened to get out of hand.
Samuels' days of clubbing are over. Now in his early 50s, he is committed to promoting gospel artistes such as singers Omari and James Henry.
He has not turned his back entirely on secular music. He is the principal of Quoin and a director with New Millionaire Entertainment, a company with headquarters in Delaware, USA, which works with acts like Sanchez.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Samuels says he keeps in touch with music industry players.
"I have always tried to stay in touch with the streets and keep in touch with what's happening. I still interact with artistes, some of them come to me for advice," he said.
Samuels says that street 'cred' can benefit New Millionaire Entertainment which is scouting for fresh talent to break in Jamaica and North America.
He has high marks for Omari, so too Christopher Martin and Romain Virgo who he says are leading the way in getting singers back on the charts in Jamaica and North American reggae charts.
Samuels also compared the current crop of artistes to their predecessors from the 1990s.
"The artistes in the 90s were serious about the music, they wanted to make music that would last. For a time, I was concerned that the music was going old- school because there was nothing new happening in the clubs or on radio," he reasoned. "But with people like Romain and Chris, there is some hope."
Along with Cargill and Chin, his schoolmate from Kingston College, Samuels was a driving force behind Cactus, the club that put Portmore nightlife on the map. Although the hottest entertainers of the 1990s performed there, Cactus was also notorious for its bare-as-you-dare contests.
"It was fun, vibes, good entertainment and good music. It was an exciting period," he said.
Asylum was also exciting, attracting the big names in dancehall, corporate Jamaica and even high-profile politicians. Samuels, the father of two daughters, says parental responsibility inspired him to change course.
"I have a 14-year-old daughter an' I decided that anything she don't want to hear I won't listen."
New Millionaire Entertainment's first batch of songs from Sanchez and Omari were released in late 2013.