The original Keith Poppin
Keith Poppin

Though he has been in the music business for over 50 years, Keith Poppin never tires of writing songs, and singing them. Being original is a long-standing trait.

He wrote 11 of the 12 songs on One More River to Cross, his latest album, which was released last year. Poppin says he rarely lays down his pen.

“Is a thing wid mi from long time yuh nuh, seeing or feeling things an' writing about dem. Nothing wrong wid doing another man song, but mi feel better doing my thing,” said Poppin from his home in North Carolina.

Interestingly, the lone cover on One More River to Cross is Whenever There is Moonlight. That song was originally written and performed by Jackie Edwards, one of Jamaican music's early composers.

Poppin first did that song in 1973 for producer Lloyd Campbell's fledgling Spider Man label.

One More River to Cross contains message-oriented songs like Leader and The Fire is Burning, which Poppin did in Jamaica with musicians such as bassist Flabba Holt and drummer Kirk Bennett.

Keith Poppin was born Keith Smith in Westmoreland. Moving to Kingston during the early 1960s, he kicked off his recording career later that decade.

In the early 1970s, he hit local charts with songs like Same Thing for Breakfast and Envious.

For the past 28 years, Poppin has lived in the United States but maintains ties to Jamaica by visiting to record fresh songs. His previous album was 2011's Speak Out, also recorded in Kingston.

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL Observer senior writer

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