Author Luther McKenzie Shows his Creativity in Latest Novel, “The Singing Village”

Black Slave Becomes White to Survive Slavery

by Howard Campbell

SOUTH FLORIDA – For those in the know, Luther “Luther Mack” McKenzie is a pillar of the South Florida reggae scene. During the 1990s, he was president of Shang Records, a company that marketed and managed the careers of dancehall stars like Shabba Ranks and Patra.

But for many years, McKenzie kept a side to him secret. Not many people know that he is a prolific writer of screenplays.

Last August, McKenzie released The Singing Village, his first book which he describes as “historical fiction.”

Author Luther McKenzie Shows his Creativity in Latest Novel, "The Singing Village"He got the idea to write a screenplay about black slaves who “magically become white to survive” 10 years ago while visiting family in his native Portland in eastern Jamaica.

It evolved into a 244-page book that covers two centuries.

“It’s an intriguing story, it has all the elements of what you call an escapist movie,” said McKenzie, who completed the project during the solitude of COVID-19.

It took him just over two months to complete a story that roamed in his head for over a decade. When it came to putting it on paper, his experience writing scripts helped make things easier.

“I did some research about slavery to get things right, like when the trade started and when it ended. But the entire story is fiction,” McKenzie noted.

An active imagination sparked McKenzie’s interest in writing from his days growing up in Manchioneal, a fishing region in Portland. Migrating to the United States at age 10, he played in reggae bands in New York City but also earned a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Atlantic International University and a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University.

But even though he dabbled in writing scripts, McKenzie’s main interest was promoting reggae events in South Florida, where he moved to in 1985. A decade later, he and Clifton “Specialist” Dillon operated Shang Records which guided the careers of gold-selling acts such as Shabba Ranks, Patra and Mad Cobra. Plus, he also managed Ky-Mani Marley.

McKenzie plans to use the marketing skills that helped propel those acts to pop success, for The Singing Village, which he is confident has the goods to become a movie.

“When people read the book, or listen to it, I’m sure they’ll agree,” he said.


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