Once you like the father, you will like the son, the reason I was very glad when I met both Andrew Tosh and Julian Marley in Antwerp. It all started during the summer holiday festivals in Antwerp, Belgium. I have missed many festivals and interviews because the festivals take place while on holidays in Africa. This time, luck was on my side, among other artists to perform was Andrew Tosh.
The influence of Jimmy Cliff’s music in Africa was experienced in the early sixties, even though the seed of reggae was taken from Africa to the Caribbean. On the radio daily, was the music of Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Decker, Toots and The Maytals, John Holt etc, giving the chance for music lovers to know a group which changed the reggae dimension in Jamaica, as ‘The Wailers, then became ‘Bob Marley and the Wailers.’
Born as James Chambers on April 1, 1948, in Somerton District, St James, Jamaica, Jimmy Cliff began his career as an actor and musician, writing songs when still in primary school. During his education, Jimmy Cliff entered local talent contests and pursued potential producers. Jimmy excelled to be one of the greatest international musicians while in his native country Jamaica.
He recorded classic songs such as ‘Many Rivers To Cross, Born To Win, Struggling Man, House Of Exile, Sitting In Limbo, Wonderful World, Beautiful People, Music Maker, You Can Get It, If You Really Want, etc, making him king of reggae, long before Bob Marley’s name was heard. He has been a figure of major influence on the international music scene for over three decades.
When Paul Simon heard his hit ‘Vietnam’ he travelled down to Kingston, Jamaica to use the tune to record his hit ‘Mother And Child Reunion.’ Jimmy Cliff has recorded over twenty classic albums. A peaceful, respectful gentleman, he was appointed ‘Peace Ambassador’ by the United Nations, to foster good relations between the ECOWAS region in West Africa.
On his way to Freetown, Sierra Leone, the reggae superstar and music legend, stopped over in Accra, Ghana. He called on African governments across the continent to resist all forms of foreign influences saying “we do not want foreigners to rule us anymore.” He advised Africans to be wary of the influence of foreign culture to the detriment of development on the continent.
Jimmy Cliff went on to say that China and Japan have forged ahead with progress because they have maintained their cultural identity and way of life. “My mother and father separated when I was a baby and my mother wasn’t really around. My most important relationships were with my father and grandmother. You can get it if you really want,” says the music legend.