Saturday, January 08, 2011

St Vincent and the Grenadines singer to break into Jamaican market

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Days before his scheduled debut at the January 15th Rebel Salute, singer Qshan Deya is chilling out and rocking to songs he plans to perform at the annual roots show.

Though he is wary of the tough reputation of Jamaican audiences, the Rastafarian artiste from St Vincent and the Grenadines is confident of delivering.

"I'm very confident. We made the connection with Rebel and his people some years ago but things didn't work out," Qshan told The Gleaner. "I guess this is the right time."

Qshan has been recording songs between St Vincent and Jamaica for Hannah Town Records, a company established last year in that west Kingston community by Calvin 'Yogi' Simmons.

Most of the songs the partnership has yielded to date deal with social issues such as inner-city challenges (In The Ghetto), early childhood education (Go To School) and parental responsibility (Single Parents Cry).

"These are things that affect the whole world, not just Jamaica and the Caribbean," said Qshan.

Voices, Fast and Pray and a cover of Michael Jackson's Speechless are other songs recorded by the 32-year-old Qshan for an album expected to be released by Hannah Town Records early this year.
These songs follow last year's Bloodshed which was produced by Kingston-based Oneil Walters for Tuff Rhino Records. That track was among a batch of songs on the Jah Guide beat.

First album

Qshan has been knocking on the Jamaican door for some time. Inspired by Dennis Brown and Luciano, his first album, Journey, was released in 2002.
It was produced by Jamaican Derrick Moo Young and distributed by J And D Records in New York City where Qshan immigrated in 1995.
During that period, he collaborated with roots-reggae veterans Yami Bolo and Richie Spice on the songs Warfare and Poor's Cry, respectively.

Qshan (given name Kellis Quashie) is originally from Ashton Union Island, one of the tiny territories that comprise St Vincent and the Grenadines, a country known more for producing calypsonians than reggae acts.

In 2003, a singer from St Vincent named Kevin Lyttle combined the island sound with reggae to score with Turn Me On, which was one that year's biggest hits. At the time, Qshan was living in New York City, had converted to Rastafari and had been trying to establish himself in the competitive Big Apple reggae scene.
He had toured the United States in 2000 as opening act for Anthony B.

Performers from the Eastern Caribbean have had significant success in Jamaican popular music since the 1960s, the best known being singers Lord Creator from Trinidad and Tobago and Barbadian Jackie Opel.

In recent years, other Caribbean states have produced reggae acts who have enjoyed success in Jamaica, such as Natural Black from Guyana and Pressure out of the British Virgin Islands.

Qshan Deya is looking to make a similar impact.