SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - Toots and the Maytals, legends of ska and reggae music, will appear on the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) stage Friday, May 31. Their signature combination of great reggae rhythms, heartfelt vocals, and soulful gospel has helped to chart the course of all Jamaican music. With unrivaled delivery and dynamism, their original combination of gospel, ska, soul, reggae and rock has made them the most enduring of all Jamaica's groups.
Grammy nominated Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, the bandleader, is one of the great voices of Jamaica; a legend whose career spans every development in Jamaican music, from ska through rock-steady to reggae. Born in May Pen in the Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, he was the youngest of seven children. He grew up singing gospel music in a church choir, but moved to Kingston in 1961 at the tender age of sixteen.
In Kingston, Hibbert met Henry “Raleigh” Gordon and Nathaniel “Jerry” McCarthy, forming a group whose early recordings were attributed to “The Flames” and, possibly, “The Vikings”. Having renamed the group the Maytals, the vocal trio recorded their first album, “Never Grow Old – presenting the Maytals”, for producer Clement “Coxsone” Dodd at Studio One in 1962-63. With musical backing from Dodd’s house band, the legendary Skatalites, the Maytals’ close-harmony gospel singing ensured instant success for the 1964 release, overshadowing Dodd’s other up-and-coming gospel trio, The Wailers.
The original album augmented by studio out-takes from the Studio One sessions was re-released by Heartbeat/Rounder Records in 1997, and is essential listening for Maytals and Skatalites fans. Towards the end of 1967, the band officially changed their name to Toots and the Maytals and began working with Chinese-Jamaican producer Leslie Kong, a collaboration which produced three classic albums and a string of hits throughout the late sixties and early seventies – “Do the Reggay”, a 1968 single widely credited with coining the word reggae, “Pressure Drop”, “54-46 was my number” and “Monkey Man”, the group’s first international hit in 1970 .
The group was featured in one of reggae’s greatest breakthrough events – The Harder They Come, the 1972 film and soundtrack starring Jimmy Cliff, named as one of Vanity Fair’s Top 10 Best Soundtracks of all time. Following Kong’s death in 1971, the group continued to record with Kong’s former sound engineer, Warwick Lyn; produced by Lyn and Chris Blackwell of Island Records, the group released three best-selling albums, and enjoyed international hits with Funky Kingston in 1973 and Reggae Got Soul in 1976.
The band won the 2005 Grammy award for best reggae album True Love, an album consisting of re-recorded versions of their classics alongside popular and legendary musicians such as Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards, as well as popular artists today such as No Doubt, Ben Harper, The Roots, and Shaggy. Toots and the Maytals remains a relevant influence on today’s global music scene with artists from Amy Winehouse to Sublime re-recording classic tracks. In recent years Toots has toured with The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews, Sheryl Crow and Los Lonely Boys.
FRI 5/31 @ 8:00PM – TOOTS & THE MAYTALS
Where: South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC), 1 SOPAC Way, South Orange, NJ, 07079
Tickets: $38, $42, $50.
To purchase, visit SOPACnow.org or call 973.313.ARTS.