“I want Jamesy P to know this, that I contacted my St. Vincent and the Grenadines United Nations mission to have them send to the Security Council, to the General Secretary of the United Nations [and] to the World Health Organization a copy of his song about the Capeless Heroes about the frontline workers. I want to congratulate Jamesy P, it’s a good composition.” The validation was announced by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves as he wounded up his appearance on last Sunday’s edition of Asbert News Network and ITFX Digital Solution’s ‘On De Spot’ interview series.
The Vincentian musician is a former barber who shot to international renown with his ragga soca anthem ‘Nookie Tonight’ in 2005, one year after its Vincy Mas release. Still arguably the most successful of his records to date, that single opened at #14 on the UK Billboard Chart and, 16 years later, is still selling well around the world.
In an exclusive interview Jamesy P explained that the production still rakes in earnings through royalties and dubplate (remixing the song to feature endorsements) requests. He said, “even though there are no stage performances right now; and I know everything must have a shelf life, so that Nookie may not be the hottest track out there now but my phone would still ring for dubplates. ”
Born and reared in Long Piece, North Union , Jamesy P is known as a ragga soca giant if only for his mastery of the sweet blend that results from marrying the reggae dancehall culture with a taste of soca or as he puts it, “reggae dancehall when its sped up and soca when its slowed down.”
‘Capeless Heroes’ does not fit the typical mold – either of Jamesy P’s popularized catalogue or of the run of the mill COVID-19 themed songs. This was not by accident, he reported, as the reggae composition meant to salute the efforts of unsung heroes (and heroines) was carefully penned to be a more lasting tribute that goes deeper than the regular COVID-19 messaging. In fact the construct is such that one of the only direct word associations to the on-going pandemic appears in the bridge “so meanwhile we quarantine and chill/you holding down a rigorous drill,” Jamesy P pointed out.
“A lot of people might not know me as a reggae artiste and might be thinking that I switched but really reggae is my foundation. I got my big break through soca but my career got started as a reggae/dancehall artiste. In light of COVID-19 I just wanted to lift the spirits and warm the hearts of frontline workers through a musical rendition.”
Michael Heyoka-Ratt, a bass player, reached out to Jamesy P via social media and related to him the story of his resilient 94 years old mother who contracted the coronavirus twice and recovered both times. According to Jamesy P, Heyoka-Ratt procured the requisite permissions to arrange a mini-concert in the parking lot across from his mother’s Ontario based care center.
‘Capeless Heroes’ was the theme song which was played to the delight of residents and staff of the Centre who enjoyed the show through open windows for physical distancing reasons. Several images appearing in the unofficial music video, now available on all music streaming platforms, were also provided by Heyoka – Ratt. Jamesy P, also made honorable mention of Yuann Liverpool who is a frontline worker at the Interfaith Medical Center in New York. Yuann, has been tremendously helpful in providing pictures/stills for the video.
The track was produced by Shawn ‘Mista Roots’ Mitchell a former bass player for Machel Montano but who now plays for the Collie Buddz backing band. It also features background vocals by Carol Dexter-Dwyer one of Buju Banton’s Shiloh band trio of vocalists. Dexter-Dwyer is also the wife of Jamesy P’s first Jamaican based producer Rohan Dwyer who was also the sound behind Jamesy P’s 1998 debut album ‘Top Notch.’
The relationship with Dwyer and other top tier producers spanning the Jamaican music recording scene was cultivated during his years travelling between Jamaica and the BVI as he invested prize monies won from radio station produced talent shows.
A prolific songwriter, Jamesy P’s pen is featured in many renditions heard across the region today. Some of his notable compositions were lyrically composed for Machel Montano, Blaxx, Farmer Nappy, Blood, Lyrical, Fadda-Fox, Shurwayne Winchester and Skinny Fabulous just to name a few.
As to Prime Minister Gonsalves’ endorsement, the former St. Martin Secondary School student noted, “the gesture is greatly appreciated. Hopefully by God’s blessing it can manifest into a greater representation for St. Vincent and the Grenadines on a whole.”