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Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond
@ Pigeon Island, St. Lucia Jazz Festival
10 May 2009

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Biography

Hugh Beresford Hammond is considered Jamaica’s greatest practicing singer/songwriter. Born in Jamaica’s garden parish St. Mary, on August 28, 1955 (the ninth of ten children), Hammond was a precocious child who made regular trips to Kingston to mingle with the singers who frequented the downtown record shops.

After graduating from high school, Hammond entered several local talent shows including the Merritone Amateur Talent Contest, where several reggae stars including vocal trio The Mighty Diamonds, Sugar Minott and the late Jacob ‘Killer’ Miller also got their starts. He joined the fusion band Zap Pow as lead singer in 1975 and remained with them for four years recording the albums Zap Pow (Mango, 1978), and Reggae Rules (Rhino Records, 1980) while simultaneously pursuing solo projects. But Hammond quickly realised he “couldn’t serve two masters” and decided to concentrate on his individual efforts. Hammond’s 1976 solo album “Soul Reggae” (Aquarius Records) produced by his friend Willie Lindo sold more than 2,000 copies in Jamaica during the first week of its release. His subsequent single “One Step Ahead”, still a favourite among Hammond fans because of his signature impassioned vocals, held the number one spot on the Jamaican charts for three and a half months.

Despite the popularity of his music, Hammond failed to reap any financial rewards. Frustrated, he dropped out of the music business, then regrouped and formed his own record label/production company, Harmony House, in the early 80s.

Hammond’s Harmony House debut single “Groovy Little Thing” marked the first time he reaped financial rewards from his music; a succession of hit singles recorded for various Jamaican producers followed including 1987’s “What One Dance Can Do” which entered the national charts in England and elicited a spate of answer records including Hammond’s own “She Loves Me Now”. Further acclaim arrived in 1990 when Hammond joined forces with his good friend Donovan Germain whose Penthouse Records dominated the Jamaican charts in the early 90s with hits by Buju Banton, Wayne Wonder and others. Germain asked Hammond to record vocals over a rhythm track he had; Hammond barely remembered recording “Tempted to Touch” but the song shot to the top of reggae charts around the world, as did the ensuing hits “Is This A Sign”, “Respect To You Baby” and “Feeling Lonely”, all featured on his Penthouse album “A Love Affair”.

For the past thirty-five years, despite inevitable career trials and tribulations, the music of Hugh Beresford Hammond has yet to be wrong.

In 1994, Hammond signed to Elektra Records. The outstanding “In Control” album would be released the same year. However, the single “No Disturb Sign” achieved moderate ‘international success’ and Hammond was not happy with the support given by Electra’s publicity / marketing machine.Undeterred, Hammond continued to release music on his Harmony House label with distribution through VP Records. He has maintained his hit-making streak well into the 21st century.

Hammond’s heartfelt delivery reinforces his unique perspective on romance, detailing everything from the sly antics of the philandering male on “Double Trouble” (from the Sweetness album) to championing the overlooked female on “Show It Off” (Can’t Stop A Man) to celebrating an inevitable relationship in “They Gonna Talk”, from his 2001 Grammy nominated album “Music Is Life”.

Review

Beres Hammond was given the honour of closing the 18th annual St. Lucia Jazz Festival - and for good reason. Hammond is a natural giving performer. His voice warms the heart; his self-written songs about love, life and relationships not only make you sit up and listen - you have to sing-along and dance.

Hammond is clearly not into pomp and ceremony. Comperes do not need to oversell his recording achievements, or hype up his highly anticipated performance. Patrons already know what to expect from him – And from the outset it was clear he was ready to deliver.

Hammond’s band warmed up the stage with a tight reggae groove before he calmly walked on welcoming patrons with a broad smile. “You are all my family!” He announced, before launching into a non stop anthem filled party. “Down By The River”, “She Loves Me now”, “Wonder what the people say”, “I Feel Good” to name just a few. There was just no stopping him as he danced and jumped around the stage with the vigour of a man half his age. Patrons responded by singing along with him, holding their partners tight and swaying from side-to-side like palm trees in the wind.

By the time Hammond had finished his set (nearly two hours later) most patrons did not have the energy to shout ‘encore’. Those who did have the energy had lost their voices from singing!


Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond

Beres Hammond


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A Moment In Time The Best Of Love From A Distance Love Has No Boundaries
In Control Music Is Life a day in the life of... Full Attention

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