Cornell Campbell still fans Reggae's flames

Cornell Campbell still fans Reggae's flames

By Cecelia Campbell-Livingston

Sunday, October 10, 2010

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IT has been said that a prophet has no honour in his own country, and for foundation singer Cornel Campbell, this may very well be the case.

In an interview with the Observer, the singer says he has a lot of love and admiration for his Jamaican fans even though he has not been very visible on the local stage.

This, he pointed out, is not because he isn't willing to perform. As he says, "There is not sufficient vacancy to accommodate some of the artistes who have made the Reggae music possible coming from way back, so they use one set of artiste in a circle over and over again, while other artistes have to migrate to greener grass to establish and to make known their career."

Campbell might not be getting the action he craves here, but he can take consolation in the fact that he is in demand on the international music scene.

He is presently preparing for the tours he does almost every year. In addition, he is also working on new releases before Christmas.

Speaking about his upcoming release Campbell says it will be "my usual style", and will see the contribution of "some very great musicians".

The veteran singer also had words of praise for radio disc jocks such as Bob Clarke and Mighty Mike, whom he says help to "big up" veterans in the biz.

Campbell also has strong views regarding the decline of the local music industry. He lashed the illegal copying of CDs, which he says is putting a big dent in the pockets of those who have invested a lot in their careers.

Added to that, there is the high cost of the pressing plant to deal with, and then there is no getting around the tax issue.

Campbell also had words for those who are allegedly discrediting the business through songs which are not fit for airplay.

"Artiste are singing loose songs -- anything that comes to their mouth, like the wild old west, without any respect for God, children and for themselves," he declared.

While expressing disappointment with the decline of the biz, he still had words of appreciation for other artistes and deejays who climb their way from nothing to achieving something.

And if there is one thing that he longs for is for fellow artistes to work "under one umbrella".

"Stop fighting each other, cause that is what causes Reggae music to be taken away from us," is the impassioned of the entertainer who has been described as possessing one of the sweetest falsettos of any Jamaican vocalist.

Like most good singers, Campbell's singing career began in the church. At age 11, he was introduced to trombonist Rico Rodriguez, who took him to Clement Dodd's famed Studio One venue, where he recorded his first single, My Treasure.

Further singles followed before he, along with Jimmy Riley, Buster Riley and Aaron Davis teamed up to form the group The Sensations .

After The Sensations split, Campbell emerged as leader of a new vocal group, The Eternals, and together with Ken Price and Errol Wisdom, recorded perennial favourites such as Queen of The Minstrels and Stars.

Campbell went solo in 1971 when he began a long association with Bunny Lee, initially working in the Lovers Rock genre, but soon worked more roots songs into his repertoire.

His self-titled debut album appeared in 1973, but his popularity peaked in the mid-1970s with hits such as Natty Dread In A Greenwich Farm, Dance In A Greenwich Farm, Stars and The Gorgon, and later on with Boxing.


CORNEL CAMPBELL:... "Stop fighting each other cause that is what cause the Reggae music to be taken away from us."

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