Kaya Black reworks EasyThursday, December 02, 2021
BY KEDIESHA PERRY
Singer Kaya Black says there is value in doing reggae covers of international hit songs. His comments come in wake of his rework of Easy , a 1978 classic by The Commodores which was officially released on October 15 and produced by Grammy winner J-Vibe.
“When you turn a foreign song into a reggae song, it gives it a new life and a new dimension. It's a win-win for both the original artiste who has the ability to reach a whole new market. If an artiste covers your song decades after its original release and it's done right, it's a sign that your song is considered a classic,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
Kaya Black shared that his decision to do a reggae version of Easy was sparked by listening to the Lionel Richie-led group while growing up.
“I always felt a connection to the single and thought a reggae version would sound great, but I never acted on it,” the artiste added.
Jamaican artistes, including pioneers like The Skatalites and Alton Ellis, have a long history of covering foreign songs — from Afro-Cuban instrumentals to obscure American soul songs. Dennis Brown had a hit with a cover of Easy in 1983.
Kaya Black is the son of Johnnie Black, a respected Jamaican photographer known for capturing iconic images of reggae legends. That pushed him into pursuing music as a career.
“I think I always had the music bug. I didn't choose it, music chose me. From early on I knew I heard music differently. My dad, being mostly an entertainment photographer, I would spend summers in Jamaica. I would go to Reggae Sunsplash. I would hang out backstage and on the side stage watching acts like Lucky Dube, Dennis Brown, Third World, Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers,” he recalled.
Based in Florida, Black thinks his different approach to singing and composing sets him apart from his colleagues.
“I think [that's] because of my eclectic influences in pop, rock, soul, R&B and roots-reggae. When I go about writing or recording a song, it doesn't come out as full-on reggae. My vocal delivery is different. It's what comes out of me naturally,” he told the Observer.
His previous singles include I Need You Now, Happy and Last Christmas.