Immigrant Songs: Winston Jarrett

photo by Renata Steiner (view set)

Can you believe there was once a time where Reggae wasn’t a word everyone recognized? In the musical world you have to really be in awe of how a sound from a tiny island in the Caribbean has propelled itself into the Global Consciousness. The legendary Reggae singer Winston Jarrett can clearly remember when the music started becoming something bigger, something that lit a fire in him and that keeps burning today.

Born in 1940 and growing up in the Jones Town area of Kingston, Jamaica, Winston took his love of music from his mother’s church into signing on to Rock Steady superstar’s Alton Ellis backing band, The Flames, in the early 1960’s. You can hear him on such classic hits as “Dancecrasher“, “Cry Tough“, “Rocksteady” and “Girl I’ve Got a Date“.

After Alton emigrated to the UK, Winston formed The Righteous Flames and recorded with many of the Reggae producers who helped the genre become the cultural force it is today. Lee Scratch Perry, Clement “Coxsone” Dodd, and Arthur “Duke” Reid have put his melodic voice on mono and FM pressings for both Commercial and Soundsystems throughout Jamaica.

In 2001, he left Kingston to move to Seattle where he has become one of the Reggae mainstays in the Emerald City. In this edition of Immigrant Songs, we cover his roots, what keeps him going at 76! – his inspirations and how Jamaica is still driving him to create, no matter where he calls home.

Darek & Winston // photo by Renata Steiner

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