AT 13, singjay Kairo McLean is the youngest person to receive a nomination in the Reggae Recording of the Year category of Canada's JUNO Awards. The nominations were announced on Tuesday in Toronto.
McLean earned a nod for Easy Now, produced by Tim Dubs. It was released last April.
The teen said the nomination caught him by surprise. He is up against the likes of Kirk Diamond and Finn (Too Ruff), Exco Levi (By Any Means), Blessed (Herb Dream), and Josemar (Don't Let it Get to You) for Canada's equivalent to the US Grammy Awards.
“I was so surprised, my mother and sister picked me [up] from school blasting my song Easy Now in the car while I was leaving the school. At that very moment, it was then I was made aware that I was nominated for a JUNO Award,” McLean shared with the Jamaica Observer's Splash.
McLean is a student at the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Catholic elementary school in Scarborough, Ontario.
“This nomination means the world to me. It's going to help get my message of peace, love and acceptance out there much more,” he said.
McLean released his four-song EP titled Easy Now (Willow Records) last year. He explained how he got into music.
“Well, music is something I feel. My mother played a lot of music around the house on Saturdays during cleaning day, and on Sundays well that's the classics, so Bob Marley, Dennis Brown and Beres Hammond would play while she's cooking dinner. Now my dad's a bass player around Toronto and he's the one that showed me how to hold my guitar. I can say I got into music because I fell in love with rub-a-dub.”
McLean's father is Jamaican while his mother is Canadian/Jamaican. He resides in Scarborough.
Asked how he manages to juggle school while doing music, he said, “I think I'm juggling school and music just fine. I get good grades, but music is a love and a constant for me. Musically, I hope to achieve keeping real roots-rock reggae music alive.”
At the age of two, McLean began to show an interest in music and by the time he was three, he was already playing drums. At five, he picked up the acoustic guitar, and by six, he was already singing and performing at festivals.
McLean draws his musical influence from Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. His most notable performances include the Rasta Fest in Toronto, and the JAMBANA Festival.
The reggae category in the JUNO Awards began in 1985 as Best Reggae/Calypso Recording. In 1994, it was changed to Best Reggae Recording and took on the title Reggae Recording of the Year in 2003.
The JUNO Awards will take place on May 15 in Toronto.