by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – Whenever Tarrus Riley visits South Florida, it’s like a homecoming for the singer, one of contemporary reggae’s biggest acts. He grew up in the region, graduating from Miramar High School in 1998.
Son of singer Jimmy Riley, Tarrus was actually born in the Bronx, New York. He moved to South Florida after spending time in Jamaica where his parents are from.
It was while living in Miramar that the seeds of his music career were sown. He was part of a creative group of artists that included fellow singers Lavaska and Screwdriver whose music was funded by Courtney “Blemo” Crichton.
In fact, Crichton (who died in January) is credited as executive producer for Challenges, Riley’s first album which was released in 2004. Two years later came the Dean Fraser-produced Parables, a hit-laden album that produced the massive hit song, She’s Royal.
The bespectacled Riley has not looked back. With Fraser as his musical director, he has toured the world and continued to release hit singles, not to mention give quality performances, with his Black Soil Band.
Riley is one of the headliners (along with Cham, Romain Virgo and Christopher Martin) for the Grace Jamaican Jerk Festival which takes place November 13 at MIramar Regional Park.
Here are some of the big shots he is likely to ‘fire’
- Stay With You — His breakthrough hit from the outstanding 2006 Parables album. A cover of John Legend’s neo-soul classic.
- She’s Royal — It doesn’t get better than this. Riley yearns for that virtuous empress on this gem from Parables, his vocals complemented by Dean Fraser’s soothing sax.
- Lion Paw — Another strong effort from Parables. The Nyahbinghi elders should be proud of this earthy number that focuses on the spirituality of Rastafari.
- Beware — Tarrus appeals to ghetto youth in Jamaica to “put down the glock” and stay clear of crime on yet another strong cut from Parables.
- Love’s Contagious — Driven by the melody of Bob Marley And The Wailers’ Coming in From The Cold. From the Contagious album, this one had dance fans rocking throughout 2009.
- Human Nature — A quality reggae cover of a monster hit from Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. Tarrus does the King of Pop justice on this track from Contagious.
Good Girl Gone Bad — Tarrus and Konshens collaborate on this uptempo jam which admonishes ‘moma’s little angel’ who loses direction after too many suitors.
Never Leave I — An acoustic-flavored track from 2011 that hears Tarrus giving praise to Jah and seeking his guidance from vampires, demons and Satan.
Gimmie Likkle One Drop — He pays tribute to the sound that took off internationally during the 1970s, thanks to Bob Marley and The Wailers. Released in 2012, produced by Chimney Records.
Black Mother Pray — Tarrus and his father deliver a heartfelt take on Jimmy’s somber salute to the embattled Nubian queen. From the 2012 unplugged album, Mecoustic.