Music insiders would have you believe that there are a variety of distinct musical genres and categories, with musical mélange rarely found. Music fans, however, embrace melodies and rhythms that mean something to them, no matter their origin. Maxi Priest represents this musical universality. Through the release of 10 albums and countless live performances he has unleashed a one-world music making him the greatest selling living reggae performer in the world.
The second youngest of nine children, Maxi’s parents moved to London, England from Jamaica to provide more opportunity for their young family. His father worked as a steelworker, while his mother devoted herself to Christianity as a missionary at a Pentecostal Church where she was the lead singer for the church choir. As a youngster Maxi grew up with the sounds of gospel, reggae, R&B, and pop music in his home.
Maxi first demonstrated his vocal abilities by singing over the mic at live dancehall sessions with artists such as Smiley Culture, while working as a carpenter building speaker boxes for a local reggae sound-system. He first made musical history in 1984 co-producing with Paul "Barry Boom" Robinson the first UK reggae tune to reach Number One in Jamaica, Philip Levi's "Mi God Mi King“.
Maxi first gained worldwide recognition with the release of Maxi (1988). Recorded in Jamaica with legendary musicians Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, and Willie Londo and released in America by Virgin Records, it contains the hit singles "Some Guys Have All the Luck" and a cover of the Cat Steven's classic "Wild World" gave Maxi. The album also includes roots favorites such as a duet with Beres Hammond, “How Can We Ease the Pain”.
Maxi followed up this success with 1990’s gold album release, Bonafide. The single “Close To You”, hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart and Number Two on the Hot R&B Singles chart solidifying Maxi’s title as the “King of Lover’s Rock”.
The following year, Maxi was again elevated to the top of the charts by collaborations with Roberta Flack on “Set the Night to Music”, and Shabba Ranks on “Housecall”. He capped off the 1991 with the release Best of Me, a powerful compilation of hits from his four previous albums.
Maxi’s reputation for balancing hard-core reggae vibes with mainstream pop was firmly cemented by the mid nineties, leading to widespread critical acclaim and massive growth in popularity as a recording and touring artist. In 1996, Maxi released “That Girl”, a duet with Shaggy from the album Man with the Fun. The Hype Williams-directed video for the Grammy Nominated hit single quickly became an MTV staple.
CombiNation (1999), embraces Maxi’s musical heritage combining elements of reggae, hip-hop, R&B, and pop. Featuring tracks produced by and co-written by Sly & Robbie, Robert Livingston, Simon Law, and Joe, the album includes “Mary’s Got A Baby”. The ambitious release also includes a sizzling rap from Beenie Man; the fierce and furious “She Wants To Dance” featuring toasters Degree and Red Rat; the uplifting “We Tomorrow’s People” - a collaboration with the acclaimed acid jazz band Icognito; the smooth cover of the Donny Hathaway/Roberta Flack old-school R&B hit “Back Together Again” featuring Elisha La’Verne; and the righteous reggafied take on Stevie Wonder’s classic “Golden Lady.”
The 2005 release, 2 The Max, includes the dancehall anthems “Full Hundred” and “Sweat a Go Buss” (featuring Beres Hammond), and “Believe in Love”, featuring 2005’s hottest rhythm.
Today, Maxi Priest’s music continues to grow beyond bounds.