Roberts' got it made

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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In Jamaica's competitive band scene of the 1970s OC Roberts was among a rush of singers trying to make that transition from club act to recording artiste. He cut several singles, but never got the big break.

Last month he realised a career dream by releasing Made in Jamaica, his first album. It is distributed by Tuff Gong International.

Based in California, Roberts wrote most of its 11 songs including the title track and Hold Them Accountable. Made in Jamaica also contains Oh Rihana, a spin on Richie Valens' classic ballad, Oh Donna.

“The most exciting thing about this project is to see that I made my first album. I did quite a few singles, but never a album. After seeing how most promoters and producers treat some of the artistes I know I always wanted to produce my own music, and I can say I did,” said Roberts in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

Roberts came of age as an artiste during the 1970s roots-reggae craze, singing at the Bohemia Club in Kingston with the Mighty Titans Band. He impressed guitarist Rad Bryan, then a member of Channel One house band The Revolutionaries, who took him to that studio where he recorded his first songs.

On Made in Jamaica, Roberts went for a balance.

“I would say 50/50, mixing the old with the new, and you try to stay current. But me, as an artiste, I can switch any time to what my fans might wanna hear from me,” he said.

According to Roberts, it took him one year to produce Made in Jamaica with help from veteran musicians, including keyboardist Ansel Collins and Glen Washington. The latter had a strong hand in the recording of Oh Rihana, a nod to the Barbadian superstar.

“I got the rhythm from my long-time friend Glen Washington and one day I was trying to write something to it and Oh Donna popped up in my mind. I said to myself, 'let me try it', and lo and behold it fit perfectly. I started to laugh and say to myself, 'Jah is good.' The tune turn out to be a strong one,” Roberts stated.

Backed by The Revolutionaries, he did a number of songs, including a cover of Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes' Wake Up Everybody for producer Sonia Pottinger.

Though from the Kingston community of maverley in the early 1980s Roberts migrated to the United States and initially lived in Detroit, where he did the club circuit with a band called The Samaritans and worked in radio.


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