by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – For the past seven years, Joseph Benaiah spent most of his time touring with The Mighty Diamonds, but even during that period, the veteran singer/musician was working on his sixth album.
Vision With Faith is the title of that set which was released in February through his label Sphinx Records and VP Records. Produced by Dean Fraser, it has 15 songs including five covers as well as a collaboration with Luciano.
One of the covers is Things in Life, made popular by Dennis Brown, one of Benaiah’s biggest influences. While there are a handful of covers on Vision with Faith, he has made an effort to record original songs after receiving sound advice from a respected musician years ago.
“If I’m going to do a song that someone else wrote, I’m going to do it just as good, but I’m not going to say it sounds better. You would mostly hear me singing a lot of Dennis Brown songs because Dennis Brown really was my hero, I used to practice singing like Dennis Brown when I was in bands. But as the years go by man like Nambo Robinson, God bless his soul, he would tell me, ‘Joe, jus’ find your own voice an’ do yuh thing, because dem man dey done sing dem things already’. That’s why nowadays, I’m singing me,” said Benaiah.
Stay With Me, Children of Israel, I Can’t Believe and Sweet Talking Lady are some of the original songs on Vision With Faith. Another cover is How Can I Love Someone, originally a hit in Jamaica for Delroy Wilson, while Benaiah shares the mic with Luciano on Make Ends Meet.
He joined The Mighty Diamonds in 2015 after original member Bunny Diamond suffered a stroke but parted ways with the legendary trio last year.
Vision With Faith is the third album on which Benaiah collaborates with Fraser. His early albums were produced by Geoffrey Chung and Karl Pitterson, two of reggae’s most brilliant figures.
Benaiah, who cut his teeth as a musician playing the New York City and South Florida reggae scene, also played guitar on the album. Guitarist Mitchum “Khan” Chin, drummer Kirk Bennett, Sly and Robbie and keyboardist Tyrone Downie are some of the other musicians on the album.