Folks continually compare Courtney John to several artists of yesteryear. He’s been called a modern day Slim Smith; some say he’s like a young Eddie Kendricks or even Curtis Mayfield with his sweet falsetto sound. After a performance at the 2008 staging of Reggae Sumfest, followed by US tour with Michael Franti & Spearhead, the comparisons came even quicker to the dapper, pencil thin reggae sensation.
Meet Courtney John, the lovers rocker, that enigmatic, rare artist who comes along every once in a while, with uniqueness that simply radiates. Blessed with a gift for creating music that speaks to the human condition, Courtney John sings about love, about life, about relationships and about good times; and of course, the women love his music, especially his trademark falsetto which resonates romance, transcending social and cultural boundaries. Courtney John’s songwriting and production capabilities are well respected among his peers.
Writing, singing and producing comes naturally to Courtney John who was born into a musical family. He grew up listening to his uncles Winston and Beres Hammond, so it came as no surprise, when at age twelve; Courtney John wrote and performed his first song. He acknowledges being influenced by the singing styles of Beres Hammond, Lionel Richie and Stevie Wonder.
Nevertheless, Courtney John is quick to admit he is a work in progress. “I get bored easily. I’m always creating, ever evolving,” he says. “What you get on this album, is not necessarily what will be on the next,” he smiles, “It’s about creating quality music that is positively progressive, that touches people where they live.” His vocal styling is captivatingly sultry yet strong. His melancholic strains get under your skin.
Made in Jamaica is the epitome Lover’s Rock album released in the UK on September, 2010, to critical acclaim. Courtney John is the “Lovers Rocker”, but producing Made in Jamaica, his third album, was anything but simple. Many of the songs were composed while on a worldwide tour with Beres Hammond during summer 2008 and production was completed in February 2009, when he was on tour with the punk/reggae band, Michael Franti and Spearhead. The Franti tour impacted Courtney John on a very personal level. “It showed that people still love reggae in its purest form. To see this American using reggae to connect with young and old really inspired me,” he says.
In addition to Courtney John, producers on Made in Jamaica include renowned duo Sly and Robbie, who also worked on its predecessor, Unselfish; noted UK based producer Chris Peckings and the musical wizardry of Steven “Lenky” Marsden, who was recently nominated as Billboard Producer of the Year.
Lucky Man produced by Chris Peckings is the first single off the album. With its vintage Treasure Isle feel, Lucky Man is permeating the airwaves worldwide, undoubtedly destined to become an international and local hit. Other tracks getting spins at radio include the cover of Rose Royce’s I Wanna Get Next To You from the 70’s hit movie, Car Wash; the Sly and Robbie produced Ready to Go and Back in Love and the other Chris Peckings tune, Win Some. Most of the songs on Made in Jamaica are traditional lover’s rock complemented by three techno-dancehall tunes produced by Stephen “Lenky” Marsden. “It’s a blend,” says Courtney John, “it reflects my personality.”
The breakout video for Lucky Man has received unparalleled critical acclaim worldwide for its innovative style. The period piece, a throwback to yesteryear was directed by Ras Tingle and edited and colored by Joel Burke. Lucky Man the video is a refreshing, revolutionary retrospective which has raised the bar in the production and presentation of the visual within the industry.
Courtney John has proven his worth to fans and critics alike, securing his reputation as one Jamaica’s most talented musical innovators to emerge in the 21st Century. Courtney John was born in the Parish of St. Andrew, Jamaica and grew up in Annotto Bay, St. Mary before migrating to North America with his family as a teenager. After completing his formal studies, he returned to Jamaica to pursue his musical calling.
Courtney John has recorded tracks for some of Jamaica's biggest producers including: X-Terminator, Fat Eyes, Taxi, and Harmony House. Courtney John is presently recording on the FiWi Music label. He has also penned and produced hits for international stars, Nelly Furtado & Michael Franti, as well as Luciano, and reggae legends Joseph Hill, Beres Hammond and Marcia Griffiths.
Jamaica’s Irie Fm, recognized Courtney John as Best Male artist of 2007 and his album, Unselfish as Best Album of 2007and Singles like Miss You,, Baby Tonight, and When You Say, have hit the Top 10 charts. Unselfish was the first album recorded as Courtney John. Previously, he was Yogie who broke through with That Was Then and I Go Crazy.
“Though I was satisfied with Unselfish,” says Courtney John, “Made in Jamaica is a far superior album.” While Unselfish had lingering traces of Yogie, “this record is straight Courtney John.”
Written by Sharon Gordon