By Howard Campbell —
It was hard to miss Ernest Wilson’s bulky frame, even in the dark parking area of Mixing Lab studio, where the veteran singer is completing his latest album.
The set is produced by newcomer Mark Anthony and contains 12 songs, all written by the enigmatic Wilson whose previous album, Still Love You, was released in 2007. Sitting outside the recording area, Wilson spoke about the project.
“Di songs have a reggae, R&B feel. Mi doing songs dat come out of me an mi feel di people will love,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
The 66-year-old Wilson was coming off a strong performance at the Stars ‘R’ Us show at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on April 1. Four days earlier, he thrilled fans cabaret style at Kings Plaza.
They shone at Studio One during the ska era of the early 1960’s. Wilson had a number of big hits as a 12-year-old with The Clarendonians, at producer Clement Dodd’s company: Rudie Gone A Jail, Shu Be-Do, Rudie Bam Bam and You Won’t See Me made the duo one of the period’s most successful acts.
His tenure at Studio One extended to the late 1970’s, but the early years were his happiest. “It was my first experience; I was glad. It put me where I am today,” he said. The Greatest is the working title of Wilson’s latest album.
His vocals remain robust and he also plays keyboards on some of the songs. It is the first album for Anthony’s More Lyfe Records.
Production started six months ago with saxophonist Dean Fraser and keyboardist Franklyn ‘Bubbler’ Waul among the musicians playing. Anthony admits the surly Wilson can be a handful at times, but his undeniable talent makes the challenge worth it.
“I first met him at my brother’s studio. The way him sing is very, very soulful. Him aggression hold yuh,” said Anthony.
Moma and I Prefer You are the songs from The Greatest projected for initial release. It has been 40 years since Ernest Wilson had a hit song, but Anthony believes he has the goods to make a comeback.
“Wi not jumping the gun, but I think him can do it again,” he said.