Jasmine Peru (The Gleaner) reviews and interviews renowned, multi-award-winning Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter Freddie McGregor.
He is the charismatic ‘Captain of the Big Ship’ who has spent several decades navigating the musical high seas, releasing classics, thrilling fans and collecting numerous accolades along the way. Tomorrow, Freddie McGregor celebrates his 64th ‘earthstrong’ and he will be doing something extra special, as he gets up close and personal with fans in an era defined by social distancing.
The world-renowned, multi-award-winning Jamaican reggae singer-songwriter, music producer, and entrepreneur is excited to be hosting his first-ever worldwide virtual party. “Each year, I usually celebrate with family and friends, so this year I’m inviting my fans to help me celebrate my birthday with a very special show streamed live from Jamaica,” the CEO of Big Ship Records said.
A few special guests will be dropping by to help the legend celebrate, among them his son Chino, Cat Coore of Third World, Christopher Martin, Dre Island, Singing Sweet and Naomi Cowan. “Cat Coore will be doing a cello piece and he will also be doing a mean solo in one of my songs titled All in the Same Boat, which he loves very much. And, of course, Dean Frazer will be there,” he disclosed. The reggae concert is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Jamaica time on Saturday. Part proceeds will go towards the Haile Selassie High School, an institution which McGregor has supported over the years.
He promised fans that Saturday night will be epic, “We are going to make the whole world sing together!”
With a catalogue spanning almost five decades, filled with 40 albums and numerous singles, Freddie McGregor has blazed a path through ska, rock steady and reggae. Born on June 27, 1956, in Clarendon, his distinguished musical career started at the age of seven, singing harmonies with The Clarendonians, a local vocal duo comprising Ernest ‘Fitzroy’ Wilson and Peter Austin. He was nicknamed Little Freddie.
How would you describe your musical journey?
It has been a long and dangerous trek, but I was able to navigate through it successfully with the help of others.
This may be difficult, as there are undoubtedly many high points, but can you list two standout moments?
When I first went to Cartagena, Columbia, that was epic. It caused me to sing Guantanamera in Spanish. I was the first artiste to perform on the Hopi Indian reservation in Phoenix, Arizona, where almost every major reggae artiste has performed since.
At 64, what has been life’s greatest lesson?
That one should always be prepared for the unexpected, such as COVID-19.
When you are not involved in all things music, how does the Captain of the Big Ship relax?
I love fishing, horse racing, and farming, I find those very relaxing.
‘If God is for Us’ – What was the inspiration for that song?
I was just thinking about life’s struggles and came to the conclusion that if God is for us, who can be against us?
Jamaica Festival Song finalist 2020. How does that title feel?
Quite strange, as I never thought I would be involved in a Festival Song Competition. But I was asked to and I threw my hat in the ring; still feels strange to me though.