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Interview: Ken Boothe

Interview: Ken Boothe

Interview: Ken Boothe

By on - Photos by Christian Bordey - 2 comments

"Color is not the answer – the answer is you and me"

Sampler

Ken Boothe

Ken Boothe is on a journey

The legendary Ken Boothe started his career in the late 50’s as Ken in the Stranger & Ken duo. About 50 years later he is still active and tours Europe and other parts of the world. United Reggae met him backstage after his performance at Uppsala Reggae Festival in Sweden.

Ken Boothe’s gritty soulful tone is one of the most distinctive in reggae music. He started his recording career in the late 50’s and begun singing ska in the early 60’s as a duo with Stranger Cole.

He evolved with the music and moved on to record a string of rocksteady classics for Studio One – The Train is Coming, When I Fall in Love and Artibella. These, and many other beautiful tunes, have given him the epithet Mr. Rocksteady.

And for many people he is Mr. Rocksteady, but he has certainly recorded several classics in the reggae vein as well.

His greatest commercial success was when he worked with producers Lloyd Charmers and the late Leslie Kong.

Together with the former he recorded the albums 'Let’s Get it On' and 'Everything I Own' with smash hits such as Crying Over You and the Bread-cover Everything I Own, a light-reggae tune that reached number one in the UK Singles charts in 1974.

Ken Boothe was a singer in demand and in the 70’s he recorded for many of Jamaica’s top producers, including Keith Hudson and Phil Pratt.

Started touring Europe five years ago

Ken Boothe hasn’t recorded much in recent years, but his music is still very much in demand, and that’s one of the reasons why he has started touring Europe, among other places.

“I started this journey in Jamaica. Then I came to England, Italy, France, Holland and now Sweden,” he says when we meet after his performance, and continues:

“I started touring Europe five years ago. I love Europe. I see what music can do for people. It can bring people together.”

Ken Boothe is 63 years old and comes from a musical family. He met his wife when he was only 17 and has many children; the oldest is 46 years old

“I grew up in a family that loved music. My sister was the first who took me on stage. But I was the first and the last that pursued a music career.”

On a journey to make a change

Ken Boothe is in a great mood and turns out to be very hospitable. He offers my journalist colleague his phone number, both mobile and landline, since he has a big house in Jamaica with both a museum and room for visitors.

He is also talkative. It’s actually hard to ask him anything. It seems that he knows what he wants to talk about. There’s not much room for anything else.

He explains that he’s on a journey to make a change and meet people. “Come together and interact,” as he puts it.

Preferably with people of different races, because racism is a subject that he is keen to talk about – both on stage and afterwards.

“I don’t want to wake up and only see black people. I want to see color. I personally love all people, whether color,” he explains, and continues:

“You must see us for what we are – people. We’re all the same. The color of a man’s skin is as the same significance as the color of his eyes,” he says, and adds:

“Color is not the answer – the answer is you and me,” he explains and points to his and my head.

Breaking barriers

His music has taken him around the world, and the music has also, according to himself, made him something of a messenger. He wants to bring people together.

“The main thing I believe in is humanity. I want to break barriers,” he explains, and continues:

“I love music. I could do this without getting any money, but I’ve to survive,” he says and smiles.

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Read comments (2)


Posted by desmond on 12.16.2011
Ken Boothe is a legend.

Posted by Jason Lawless on 01.16.2012
Nice article. Thanks for posting. Added to my site http://www.lawless-street.com/ken-boothe-in-sweden/

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