Take a journey into reggae music and culture with celebrity sensation Junior Kelly, your ears will not be disappointed. Mr. Kelly has been making authentic and empowering reggae music for over 25 years. Junior Kelly is also responsible for mega-hits like “Love So Nice”, "Smile", “Red Pond” and in mid 2013 released a new album called “Piece of the Pie”.
Junior Kelly was kind enough to sit down and get personal with us during an exclusive in depth interview for our readers. Quite humble in nature, he freely speaks with us about his life, beliefs, new album "Piece of the pie", being on the road and what it's like being an artist in Jamaica.
When listening to Junior's album, "Piece of the pie" it's easy to become intoxicated by the variety of pleasant sounds that greet one's ear. The album's lead song is solid and the moment the first note plays on "Rock, Rock, Rock" at the beginning of the album, you can tell you are dealing with live, original instruments, definitely no BS.
Elevate your mind to "A piece of the pie" and meditate to the vibes of this one of a kind interview with Junior Kelly, a true roots and reggae legend. Without a doubt, "Piece of the pie" is a modern day timeless classic and a must have album for every music lover's collection. In addition to his new album, Junior Kelly also too the industry by storm recently with artist Smif n Wessun, when they released a hot new video called "Born and raised", a magnetic glimpse of both artist's "Rudeboy" side.
GiGi Capone: Why did you name the album “Piece of the pie”?
Junior Kelly: This song is a track on the album and it was fitting to be the title track because it symbolizes the plight of impoverished people all over the world who are trying to make it by working very hard, and in return they would just like to be valued and get their share of the wealth which they rightfully deserve.
GiGi Capone: What part of Jamaica are you from?
Junior Kelly: I was born in Waltham in Kingston but spent most of my life growing up in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
GiGi Capone: Would you say there is a difference between the music a reggae artist and a Rastafarian artist makes? If so, what are the differences?
Junior Kelly: The main difference is that Reggae artistes will do more secular songs with no limitation on what they say, while a Reggae artiste that is a Rastafarian has limitations on what they write and say because your music legitimizes what Rasta stands for, it solidifies and authenticate what you stand for and expounds the principles and teachings of Rastafari. Although this limitation is not good sometimes as it may limit you as an artiste but it is a sacrifice you have to make.
GiGi Capone: Is “Piece of the Pie” your first release since “Red Pond”?
Junior Kelly: Yes it is my first album release since Red Pond.
GiGi Capone: Did you experience any challenges as an artist during the making of Piece of the pie?
Junior Kelly: Yes as an artiste you have daily challenges that you face.
GiGi Capone: You have been making music for over 25 years now, and “Love so nice” put you on the map as a celebrity reggae artist, at this point in your career, which one of your songs do you feel has been the most successful for you and why?
Junior Kelly: Love so Nice is still that song, mainly because of the mega impact it had and still has, it was a game changing song and seem to stand out in everyone’s mind. When you can change things in an industry, influence a trend with your song and rewrite history, it gives the song an iconic status. Love So Nice has taken me all over the world to this day.
GiGi Capone: Which one of your songs holds the closest meaning to you?
Junior Kelly: That is a very hard question to answer because all of them are like my babies, they mean so much to me, and they’re all special and dear to me.
GiGi Capone: In the biography on your website, there is a mention about “Red Pond” and it’s meaning. Tell us about the meaning and what it has been like as a singer/songwriter to live here your entire life making music.
Junior Kelly: Red Pond is a very difficult place to live in, and it got its name because of the bloodshed that has taken place there time and again. I lost my brother and best friend there. As a songwriter, it has inspired a lot of my songs due to the experiences and what I see around me. I am very close to the downtrodden and the impoverished and it helps me to write in an authentic manner because I see it every day around me, it helps to keep me grounded and I become the voice for the voiceless.
GiGi Capone: Whom did you work with on production for the “Piece of the pie” album release?
Junior Kelly: The main Producer is Anthony “Altafaan” Senior who I have been working with for many years now. We have developed a synergy and a great working relationship over the years and so we decided to put out this album.
GiGi Capone: For those not familiar with Patios, please tell us the meaning of “Bun Babylon”, a song from your new album “Piece of the Pie”.
Junior Kelly: When we use that term “bun Babylon” we refer to the system. It is about what we stand for, we want things for the greater good of the people, and things that are bad we wish to get rid of it by political means and within the confines of the law.
GiGi Capone: About “Lot’s of herbs”; in the United States, we are still fighting to legalize medical marijuana in 30 out of 50 States, tell us what are your views on the use of “herbs” and what does “The Burning of the chalice” mean?
Junior Kelly: Marijuana is used by Rastafarians for several purposes: as a Religious Sacrament in prayer, it is used by artistic persons to release their creative juices and also for meditation. It actually has nothing to do with medical purposes.
Gigi Capone: Do you have children?
Junior Kelly: Yes, I have children.
GiGi Capone: Does your family travel to watch your shows when you’re on tour?
Junior Kelly: No they do not normally travel with me unless the show is in Jamaica. It is rare that they are able to see my shows for that reason as I perform extensively outside of Jamaica, but it’s very serious work on the road so I am not able to take them with me. However, I took my eldest son on the road with me for the first time last year in Europe, as I felt he was at an age that he could understand.
GiGi Capone: How has your family adapted to your celeb status as an artist?
Junior Kelly: It is a very difficult job when you are a celebrity. Most persons, even your own family does not understand that you need real love and attention and that you are human. They see you as a meal ticket most times and ask you for everything they think they need and want. It makes me sad sometimes.
GiGi Capone: You have experienced more than one traumatic incident in your life, from witnessing your own brothers murder to almost dying in a car accident; do any of your songs reflect these experiences in your life? Which ones?
Junior Kelly: These incidents inspire me and it’s interwoven in all my songs but I have not written any specific songs about these incidents.
GiGi Capone: “Rock, Rock, Rock” and “Go Round Dem” are my absolute favorites on this album, what inspired those songs?
Junior Kelly: Rock, Rock, Rock and Go Round Dem were inspired by my livity, my way of life, it’s my personality. I try not to be a pushover and stand up for what I believe in.
GiGi Capone: What can fans expect from you in 2014?
Junior Kelly: For 2014 I will be releasing two music videos from the Piece of the Pie album and I will be touring and promoting the album all over the world, while working on more great music for my next album release which should be by the end of the year.
GiGi Capone: Are you currently touring? Where can fans catch you next?
Junior Kelly: Fans can catch me next in Toronto – February 7, Europe Tour – April 10-30th and my Booking Agent is currently negotiating festivals in USA and Europe for the summer.
GiGi Capone: Finally, where is the best place for fans to run out and purchase your new Album “Piece of the pie”?
Junior Kelly: It is available in all record stores or online at leading music websites Itunes.com or Amazon.com
GiGi Capone: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Junior Kelly: I would like to say thanks for all the love and support not only for me, and my music but, for Reggae music on a whole, because it symbolizes and stands for all of us on a global scale. Thanks for listening and thanks for loving the music, because it makes my job significant not only in the music industry but in the world at large. People need this awareness. I am the voice for the voiceless.