As the month-long reggae celebrations continue, BUZZ continues to look at key figures who have helped to shape and boost the genre. Today, we look at roots singer Garnet Silk, whose ‘message music’ mission was intercepted by his death in 1994, a mere two years after he got his big break.
In 1993, it was next to impossible to see Garnet Silk without seeing Tony Rebel and Yasus Afari nearby. The artistes, called ‘the three Musketeers’ in jest, formed part of the roots-revival, Pan-African wave in the early 90s. Silk, 27, was making his presence felt with a velvety voice and lyrics of black consciousness, and record producer Jack Scorpio noticed.
“Him and Tony Rebel used to pass through my studio every now and then, and I wanted to work with Garnet so badly. Him did well waan do something for me too, but it had to be at the right time,” Scorpio told BUZZ. “Eventually he came, and we ended up doing two songs, Zion In A Vision and Spread The Love.”
The right rhythm
Produced on Scorpio’s Friends For Life rhythm, Zion In A Vision stands as one of Silk’s most beloved recordings and a sure reggae classic. Scorpio said he believes Silk had the lyrics for some time and was waiting for the right rhythm.
When the record was released, Scorpio said it was so sentimental to Silk that he declined dubplate offers.
“I really have to lift my hat to people like him cause him never do music for the money.”— Jack Scorpio
“He took this song so serious. I said: ‘Garnet yuh cya give me a special fi dis song pon mi sound?’ and him tell mi him nah do no special wid dis song, no dubplates, so you must know how him feel about it too,” Scorpio said.
“Yuh never hear a sound play a Zion In A Vision dubplate because it was so special to him. I really have to lift my hat to people like him cause him never do music for the money, he did it cause he wanted to send a great message, and that’s why his legacy lives on and we have to pay him all the respect.”
Scorpio added that he recently gave the rights to the use of the song to Silk’s estate for an upcoming album.
Silk, whose given name was Garnet Smith, avoided the gritty dancehall culture that popularised at the turn of the 90s. He found Rastafari with the influence of Yasus and contributed to the roots-revival space alongside peers Everton Blender, Luciano and Uton Green. His repertoire boasts singles like Bless Me, Kingly Character, It’s Growing and Mama Africa.
In December 1994, Silk went to visit his mother in his Hatfield Ward Park hometown in Mandeville where he was building her a home. A week into his visit, Silk perished in a fire alongside his mother. He was 28-years-old.