Inspired by King David and King Solomon, Horace Campbell became performing artist King Hopeton and set his feet sturdy on the Reggae path. Born on the island of St. Ann in Jamaica, King started playing music at the age of four after hearing a classical piano piece played by his school teacher, Miss Eva English, who promptly became his first music teacher when he revealed his natural talent on the piano. It wasn’t long before King (then little Horace) experienced a standing ovation at the age of seven which further inspired him to focus on the path of music and sharing it with the world.
King Hopeton did not restrict his learning to the piano. In his years of study and practice he has also learned to play the drums, acoustics, electric and bass guitar and the organ. His love for the way music can impart important and inspiring messages has made him into a top rate song writer with multiple originals now featured on his two albums King of Kings and Beautiful Morning. Hopeton says his style has been “directly influenced by Classical music and Reggae roots while his work embodies elements of Jazz, Rhythm and Blues, Ska, Gospel, Alternative, Rock, Irish and Pop music.”
In his teens, Hopeton joined the multi-award winning United Force Band and followed with local and international tours to broaden his experience in the music and entertainment worlds. In 1997 he started his solo career as both a singer and producer which has led him to work with a vast number of great Reggae and other genre talents. Some of his notable associations include Mykal Rose, Prezident Brown, Everton Blender, Sizzla and Movado as well as international groups like Mei, Ragga Z, Rocker T, Pyrx Band and Dylans Dharma.
King Hopeton’s passion for music keeps him busy on the road as well as creating and producing. He consistently performs at over 80 shows a year including festivals like In the Light Festival, Wild Mountain Faire Festival, Alley Arts, Best Reggae and the annual One Love One Heart Reggae Festival.
Hopeton will return to the 2014 One Love festival that takes place Labor Day weekend, Aug. 29 –31 at the Rio Ramaza Marina. Sacramento and other California area fans as well as those who travel from others states are already anticipating his return to One Love One Heart. He has been part of this festival from the start six years ago and says “it has grown magnificently and continues to grow.” He has seen the festival “capture the hearts of those hearing Reggae music for the first time” and feels it’s been a “great introduction of the music and artists in that genre” to festival attendees.
Prior to arriving at the One Love One Heart Reggae Festival in Sacramento, Hopeton will be on tour with Black Uhuru as the keyboardist of the band. This tour will take him to France, Belgium and Switzerland. At the start of the interview Hopeton was readying to travel overseas and later stated, “The tour is going excellent, shows are sold out and I'm having a blast playing and exploring Europe.” Following the European tour, he will return to the U.S. in late May for additional shows. He will perform at the Sierra Nevada World Music Festival playing keyboards with five other acts and then hit the One Love One Heart Reggae Festival in August doing his own sets as well as keyboardist for other performers.
This kind of busy schedule is typical for performing artists and King is no stranger to the challenges of being away from home more often than at home. He says, “I rarely see home … and I do miss my children, my mom and my brothers … and I missed my sister too before she passed in 2007.” His two little girls are now 14 (Hopriana) and 8 (Paris) and are his biggest fans of the man behind the music.
Hopeton states, “they always say that home is where your heart is and my home is in Jamaica but my heart is in the music and wherever the music takes me. So far it has taken me half way around the globe and shortly covering the other half so then I will make this world my home.” This kind of philosophy drives his passion for Reggae music while the music empowers him. “Reggae is my heart,” he says, “it helps to create spiritually uplifting music that touches the soul of mankind, bringing Peace, Love and Unity that we need today to move towards a better and brighter future.”
The King Hopeton logo is two lions which represents both male and female strength, mother and father. The Reggae approach is deeply ingrained in King’s music and mentality. He believes the “frequency of the music … creates positive energy that drives negativity away, creating less conflict.” Through both his music and his Ultimate World Peace outreach program, Hopeton has helped many youths. He has “taken then off the street, housed and fed them” with many to eventually become “great achievers as musicians, artists, business owners, pastors, audio engineers, managers, producers, motivators, and more.” He says, “This has all been done by loving and seeking what you do as your passion.” And, when asked if there are any particular inspiring stories he might want to share, he states “those moments are like a book waiting to be written.”
“My responsibility lies in being available to people of every nation, color or creed whenever the need arises for my support.” The cause of Reggae Music For Peace calls him to share his knowledge and devotion. Hopeton created Ultimate World Peace “to help the youth and poverty stricken families in various parts of the ghettos and slums.” The mission is to “give hope, love and true meaning to life” through this foundation and his passion for Reggae music.
In listening to Hopeton’s collection of originals in his two current, Beautiful Morning and King of Kings, his target becomes clear. The purity of purpose shines through and elevates the listener to greater levels of peace that transports discord and conflict into greater harmony with one’s self and the world at large. Like gospel, they inspire and open the heart to accept unity and love. What greater gift can a musician give to mankind than to inspire a spiritual path of “Ultimate World Peace?”
With a hip hop album coming out soon, King continues to weave his major musical influences into new expressions of uplifting music. The hip hop tracks will contain a more gospel oriented flavor with references to Jah and the Word (the Bible). His albums are ripe with blessings that include a couple ballads including a highly favored “Take This Pain Away” from King of Kings, a World music song “No One Can” from Beautiful Morning and acoustic tracks like those found in “Can You See the Light,” “Jah is The Creator,” and “Free Yourself” which contains a lot of acoustic hand drums in Nyhabinghi style. And, King has never left his classical inspiration behind and includes some original classical piano pieces at the start and end of Beautiful Morning. For those who prefer more energetic pieces, there are ample songs with heavy bass lines and roots rock reggae including “Once Again” and “Can You Feel it Jah.”
The titles alone can give any potential fan a glimpse into the Hopeton world and include Can You See the Light, Got to Be Strong, Crying Out For Peace, Free Yourself, Jah is Creator, Take This Pain Away, We Are On Our Way, To Know Jah is to Love Jah, Stop the War Stop the Killing, and I Lift Up My Soul. Hopeton explains that “Reggae music, as everyone knows, it more spiritual based.” However, those new to Reggae might not grasp this foundation but listening to the words and the flow of the music quickly gives them the idea and the light turns on when they realize that Reggae (as explored and shared from the King Hopeton perspective) is about “dealing firm with Jah and taking no sides.”
When asked about the darker sides of the music industry, Hopeton reveals his Reggae orientation as well as the method of his heart, “I know of the dark sides, but at the same time, it’s about what one chooses for themselves.” He chooses Reggae as his format and his expression “as much as it is possible to choose any other genre.” While the hardest part of working in the industry and touring is having to carry his equipment and do the set up and take down, the most rewarding aspect “is when someone for the first time hears my music and says that it inspired them ….”
King Hopeton’s originals are receiving positive attention and "attracting major rotation on the Jamaican airwaves" as well as international notice in the US, Europe and Africa. His work as a producer has also received recognition and was credited “by Billboard Magazine in 2009 for producing 12 of 15 rhythm tracks on Little Hero’s number one Billboard Reggae album Revelation as well as on various Reggae hits stemming from Jamaica to the Caribbean.” While he often plays keyboard for Black Uhura, Glen Washington, Richie Spice, Dylans Dharma and others, he isn’t lost in the background. His training and skills set him apart from the casual musicians. It takes heart as well as courage and strength to succeed in any performing arts industry. Hopeton has what it takes.
Local Reggae fans will be able to share in the King Hopeton Reggae vibe at the upcoming One Love One Heart Reggae Festival in August. To date, the festival has been largely populated by Reggae fans outside of the immediate Sacramento area even though it takes place in Sacramento on the beautiful river’s edge. The number of attendees has grown and the locals are slowly getting the picture that the One Love festival should be put in big red “don’t miss it” letters on the calendar. Pre-sale tickets and more information are available at the official One Love website.
Extra tidbits about King Hopeton:
- Born March 25, 1972
- Likes to meditate and “throd the rivers, seas and mountains.”
- Is considering partaking in some Yoga experience
- King Hopeton grew up listening to Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Black Uhuru and many more that "really inspired" him.
- Never actually owned a musical instrument until adulthood in his later 20’s
- His music includes an Irish influence that came from Dylans Dharma. He started producing Dylans Dharma in Chico and, through them, met many Irish musicians who he says “are amazing” and are mixing Irish with Reggae music.
- Creating a new song may take Hopeton anywhere from minutes to days, weeks or years. Sometimes he doesn’t write it at all because it’s already there in his heart.
- His immediate family is not greatly musical but he has a nephew, stage name Phil Watkis, who plays acoustic guitar and “is a wonderful singer” that he hopes to get over for the 2014 One Love One Heart Reggae Festival. He also has two cousins that play keyboard and drums for Damien Marley.
- King's "first instruments were glasses filled with water, which he would carefully measure and make sure it had the right notes. There and then he would play his glass music all day and night until one would break due to his over zealousness."