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June is Black Music Month and WERS at Night will recognize black musicians, composers, singers, and songwriters who have made enormous contributions to the music industry. Today, June 5th, Rockers is highlighting Luciano.
Jepther McClymont, better known as roots reggae artist Luciano and “The Messenger”, was born October 20th, 1964 – making him the seventh of nine children growing up in Machester, Jamaica. Luciano grew up with very spiritual parents which lead him to praise Jah in most of his music. He began recording in 1992, with his first single “Ebony & Ivory” on the Aquarius Record label, followed by his debut album Moving Up for RAS Records in 1993. After voicing several covers for the producer Sky High, Luciano released “Give My Love a Try,” which was produced at Castro Brown’s New Name Studio and was a hit in Jamaica. Although his love songs became popular, Luciano didn’t feel that it expressed his passion for spiritual music.
With the release of his landmark CD Where There Is Life in 1995, Luciano emerged as one of the most important reggae singers in decades and the greatest hope for roots reggae’s survival in the digital dancehall era. Since that much acclaimed release, Luciano’s music has been consistently praised for imparting sentiments of spiritual salvation, Rastafarian edification and African repatriation. Luciano rose to prominence in the mid-1990s, at the height of the “Rasta Renaissance” in dancehall music, beginning with the album One Way Ticket in 1994. The renewal of Rastafarian influence into dancehall music in the early 1990s had begun with artists such as Tony Rebel and Garnett Silk. After Silk’s death in late 1994, many looked to Luciano to continue consciousness in reggae music. Of Garnett Silk, he stated “Garnett was more like a brother, a father, a tutor, a forerunner. When he moved on I knew the work for me became harder still.”
Produced by Byron Murray of Kingston’s In the Streetz Productions, Child of a King is one of The Messenger’s most esteemed works, mixing classic cover versions and original tunes, recent hits and brand new boom shots. Luciano estimates this to be his fortieth album; the prolific artist releases three full-length CDs per year. “I have so much music and messages, that I cannot be holding it inside of me,” he declares. “From a management point of view, they would like to see me cooling it out for a while but if a bird doesn’t sing, tell me if that bird is happy? Right now we are at a point of rivalry and all matter of evil in the world and my duty as a messenger is to run the music out there like the River Jordan.”
“We are all children of the Most High God and as a Rastaman, I acknowledge that I am a child of Emperor Hailie Selassie because all of his teachings are in my songs,” he explains. “I am a child of king and I just want my family and my fans to receive the blessings that God has given through me as a messenger and an instrument of peace.”
Luciano was awarded the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer on October 15, 2007 in recognition of his contribution to reggae music. In July 2009, Luciano paid his respects to fellow musician Michael Jackson by releasing a reggae tribute on Lioni Records of Jackson’s iconic USA for Africa charity song, “We are the World”.