'Niney' has his say


'Niney' has his say

Observer senior writer

Monday, January 06, 2020

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AS a rockers-style version of Ken Boothe's Silver Words fills the room at Mixing Lab studio, singer/producer Winston “Niney” Holness stalks the floor like a predator closing in on his prey.

He shouts directions to guitarist Dalton Browne and keyboardist Franklin “Bubbler” Waul, two of the musicians on the session.

“Wha' mi a try do is something different, nuh jus' reggae. Mi waan di song dem have a different feel,” said the meticulous Niney during a break.

The 69-year-old revived his vocal career last year after feeling dissatisfaction with the young singers who passed through his Soundbox Studio in Kingston.

He told the Jamaica Observer that his first album in many moons is scheduled for release in the summer, and will tentatively have 14 songs. The first single is another cover, a boogie woogie take on Say What You're Saying, made popular by Eric “Monty” Morris and Dennis Brown, Niney's former protégé.

“Mi stop produce artiste. Dem cheat people to much an' mi cyaan bother wid dat nuh more,” he said.

Holness, who was actually born George Boswell, had a big hit as a singer in Jamaica and the United Kingdom in 1971 with the self-produced Blood And Fire. But he put his recording career on hold once he began producing hit songs for the teenaged Brown ( Westbound Train, Cassandra, Love And Hate, Wolf & Leopards); Boothe ( Silver Words); Third World ( Roots With Quality); and Sugar Minott ( Lovers Race, No Vacancy).

For over 30 years he lived in the United States, and settled comfortably into a reggae elder statesman role, similar to his mentors Bunny Lee and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Ten years ago, concerned with the lack of singers in Jamaican reggae, he launched Soundbox to find fresh voices.

That never materialised and Niney was inspired to dust off his vocals and record a, concept album that blends lovers rock reggae with boogie woogie, revival and blues.

Though he selected Say What You're Saying as the yet-titled set's opening song, Niney disclosed that his team will not have the final say in which other songs will be released.

“Wi going to bring in di journalist dem an' they will decide di song dem. Wi do dat wid Dennis Brown, wid Alan Magnus an' Cecile Wilson [of Radio Jamaica] an' it work. Wolf & Leopards, Westbound Train, Cassandra...everything hit,” he stated.

The album will be released by Niney's Observer label.

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