A ‘Cruz’ down memory lane

A ‘Cruz’ down memory lane

20 Days of Silk

BY SIMONE MORGAN Observer reporter morgans@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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This is the second in the Jamaica Observer's daily 20-part series, 20 Days of Silk, which looks at the life of roots singer Garnet Silk. Next month marks 20 years since his death.

THERE'S a sense of déjà vu about singer Anthony Cruz's upcoming album, a tribute set to his grand-uncle, the influential roots vocalist Garnet Silk.

It has covers of some of Silk's biggest hits which are being produced by Donovan Germain and Bobby 'Bobby Digital' Dixon, who were key players in Silk's transformation from sound system performer to mainstream hit-maker.

According to Cruz, he has already released renditions of Silk's Kingly Character, Keep Them Talking and Lion Heart.

"I am really enthusiastic about this project as he (Garnet Silk) had a great influence on my music style," Cruz told the Jamaica Observer.

Like Silk, Anthony Cruz (given name Rowan Smith) grew up in Manchester. Cruz's grandfather, Garnet Smith, and Silk are brothers.

He was a teenager when Silk began began making the rounds on Jamaican and ethnic charts in the United States with a string of hit songs for Germain (Gave You Everything I Got) and Digital (It's Growing).

He recalled the last time he saw his uncle.

"I was about 15 years old and we went to a dancehall session together. He wasn't as popular at the time but he was about to break," Cruz said.

Shortly after, Cruz said he migrated to the United States where he was living when Silk and his mother Etiga Gray died in a fire at her Manchester home on December 9, 1994.

"I was living in Miami at the time when I heard of his death and like the rest of the family, I was devastated as he or his mother didn't deserve such horrifying deaths. Even to this day, we still have not gotten over it," he said.

Cruz has not done badly for himself since he started recording 15 years ago for producer Willie Lindo's Heavy Beat Records, based in South Florida. His hit songs include Half Way Tree and Tear it Up.

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