At 64 Jamaica’s Roots-Reggae Singer Fred Locks Showing his Versatility

by Howard Campbell

At 64 Jamaica’s Roots-Reggae Singer Fred Locks Showing his Versatility
Fred Locks

KINGSTON, Jamaica – A stalwart of Jamaica’s roots-reggae scene of the 1970s, singer Fred Locks made his name with hardcore Rasta anthems like Black Starliner and So Jah Say. Now 64, he is not averse to working with contemporary producers to stay current.

On Right Away, a recently-released seven-song EP, Fred Locks teams up with Fred Locks teams up with producer Diavallan “Dia” Fearon.

A multi-instrumentalist, Fearon has produced hit songs by several dancehall heavyweights including Head nuh Good by Kip Rich and Predator and Fan Dem Off by Elephant Man.

Fred Locks had no problems working with Fearon who he describes as “a very versatile musician.”

All of the songs on Right Away are originals written by Fred Locks and address hot topics in Jamaica such as skin bleaching (Your Beautiful Black Skin) and unconventional sex (No Threesome Rasta).

“It important to write new songs an’ show people dat you are in touch. Doing these songs mek mi feel like a iron lion in Zion,” Fred Locks boasted.

Right Away is released during a roots-reggae renaissance in Jamaica. Acts like Chronixx, Jesse Royal, Kabaka Pyramid and Jah9, represent the new wave of consciousness that has struck a chord with Jamaican youth.

In 2016, Fred Locks collaborated with them on Herb Must Legalize Now, a song calling for the legalization of marijuana in Jamaica.

Born Stafford Elliott in Kingston, the Jamaican capital, Fred Locks comes from a family with impressive musical lineage. His cousins are fellow reggae singers Jacob Miller and Maxi Priest, as well as the rapper Heavy D who was born in Jamaica.

He began his career in the late 1960”s as a member of harmony group The Lyrics, but did not experience any significant success until 1975 with Black Starliner which recalled Marcus Garvey’s failed plan of mass repatriation of black people aboard his fleet of Black Star Line ships in the early 1920s.

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