Conkarah's Day-OWednesday, September 18, 2019
By Kevin Jackson
MUSIC was the furthest thing from his mind when Conkarah enrolled at the University of Charleston in West Virginia during the mid-2000s on a football scholarship.
“I went to university on a soccer scholarship but I got injured and deferred to academics. I did earn a degree in broadcasting but I decided to pursue music in 2011,” Conkarah told the Jamaica Observer.
The singjay made his recording debut with Forever, which was produced by Danny Browne, who co-wrote the song with his son, Niko. Eight years later and Conkarah's single Banana, a collaboration with Shaggy, is number 32 in its third week on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart.
Written by Conkarah, Banana is a tongue-in-cheek play on the traditional Jamaican folk song, Day-O (The Banana Boat Song), popularised in 1956 by legendary singer/actor Harry Belafonte.
“The collaboration with Shaggy came about after I sent a demo of the song to Cherrytree Music and S-Curve Records. Shaggy was sent the song and he said it's a really good track and we should do a collaboration,” Conkarah recalled.
He added: “It has been a great experience working with Shaggy. I mean, I used to listen to him when I was in high school and in university.”
Born Nicholas Murray, Conkarah is from Mona Heights in St Andrew. His mother is British and his father is Jamaican.
“I attended Mona Prep and then St George's College. I then went to Columbia International College boarding school in Canada and then the University of Charleston, where I started out with the choir,” said Conkarah.
To date, he has scored three titles on the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart. Don't Kill My Love reached number seven in 2016, while Timeless Love rose to number four in 2017. Inna Reggae Style: 90s Edition Vol 1 extended play stalled at 11 last year.
One of his biggest hits outside of Jamaica is a cover of Adele's Hello, featuring Solomon Islands singer Rosie Delmah. It peaked at number two on Billboard's Reggae Digital Song Sales Chart in 2016. Conkarah spoke about the frequency of recording covers.
“Covers are things that people are looking forward to these days. There is a niche market for reggae covers and it's also a way for me to introduce people to reggae music and also to my original songs. For me, it has been working wonders so far,” he said.
For most of the year, Conkarah is touring. He recently completed shows in Indonesia, Australia, The Philippines and New Zealand. Noting that he travels with a portable studio, he addressed the influence of technology on contemporary music.
“Technology has changed the face of music and made it a level playing field for everyone. It gets your music out there as an unsigned artiste. If you can build your subscription and fan base, you really don't need a record label,” he explained.
Ultimately, Conkarah is looking to achieve longevity in the music business.
“I want to keep making music and making songs like Banana, which is a happy vibe song. We are taking life too serious and I want people to lighten up and enjoy music. My music is good vibes and I want to keep pushing out good vibes so people can dance to it.”
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