Anju Priest is Happy & FreeMonday, August 31, 2015
IT has been 11 years since singer Anju Priest's first album Stages was released. And though he has released songs in the interim, he recently teamed with singjay I-Octane on a single he believes will reintroduce him to fans.
Happy & Free is the name of the song. Initially released in the Cayman Islands where the dreadlocked artiste has lived for 12 years, it is the lead single from The Essence of Life, his second album.
"The first thing I did differently with this album was the collaboration with I-Octane which brought a new sound to the music. With this song, the team and I deliberately infused reggae with dancehall,hip hop and salsa," Priest said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.
Preceded by an EP of the same name, the album has two covers -- Rick Astley's 1987 international dance hit Never Gonna Give you Up, and the Dan Hill ballad Sometimes When we Touch. The originals are popular with Jamaicans.
Happy & Free was actually released one year ago in the Cayman Islands where Priest settled shortly before Stages was released.
For The Essence of Life Priest worked with several producers, including Stephen McGregor, Rohan Dwyer, Jervis Elliott and Diavallan 'Dia' Fearon.
The break between album, he noted, has made him a better artiste.
"Stages did very well as it had songs like Miss You, In My Vision, Divine Message and Price Gone Up, which all did well. I would say I've grown a whole lot; the new album shows more maturity," he said.
Born Andrew Elliott, Priest is from the Ballards Valley region of St Elizabeth, a district that has impressive reggae credentials.
His cousins are singers Maxi Priest, Jacob Miller, Fred Locks and the rapper Heavy D, whose roots are steeped in Ballards Valley.
For much of the 1990s, he toured with the London-born Maxi who was one of the biggest names in reggae.
Though the Cayman Islands is home to hundreds of Jamaicans, Priest said reggae is not thriving in the British territory.
"The reggae scene is not that vibrant, but we have a few shows now and again in the clubs, hotels and bars."
-- Howard Campbell