THERE were plenty roots singers to choose from in the 1990s. Most came from Jamaica's south-central region and made their mark with spiritual anthems like El Shaddai which was done by Jahmali.
The album of the same name did well for the Clarendon-born singer, but after recording a follow-up (Treasure Box) for producer Bobby 'Digital' Dixon, he moved to the United States for 'family reasons'.
Jahmali has been back in Jamaica for close to a year, working on an album he hopes to release by December. It is not a comeback, he pointed out.
"Jamaica may not be hearing mi because the disc jockeys an' the sound system operator dem playing the same songs every day. But I'm still recording an' Europe an' the Caribbean hearing mi," he told the Jamaica Observer.
While in the US, Jahmali says he maintained a steady recording regimen for various producers including the British independent label, Necessary Mayhem. Bloodthirsty, How Thankful Am I and A Girl Like You are some of the songs he released in the last three years.
"Those are the songs that have kept me working in Europe," he said.
Eclipse is the title of his next album which is largely self-produced. The respected Clive Hunt is also part of the production team, with guitarist Winston 'Bo Pee' Bowen and keyboardist Franklin 'Bubbler' Waul among the musicians.
A single, Country Roads, is expected to be released
Jahmali was part of the roots revival that transformed the bawdy image of dancehall in the 1990s. Between studies at Mico Teachers' College, he recorded for Dixon and Germain.
He had to wait longer than his contemporaries for the break which came in 1999 with El Shaddai, produced by Donovan Germain. The song and album raised Jahmali's profile from unknown to 'artiste to watch' status, but the critical follow-up hit did not materialise and he moved to the US.
Though his expectations for Eclipse are high, Jahmali believes he has matured and no longer yearns that
"I'm not doing this for myself, is not a Jahmali trod. I'm doing the Father's work," he said.
-- Howard Campbell