Tarrus Riley is among the leading ambassadors of modern day Reggae Music in Jamaica. The singer’s commanding vocals, intuitive lyrics and vibrant personality have combined to create a formidable artiste with authentic credentials in Reggae music. His rising catalogue has been described as ‘healing’ music, and has brought adoration and acclaim from leading music luminaries from across the globe.
Being the son of veteran reggae singer Jimmy Riley his venture into music was predictable. However, Tarrus Riley set himself apart from the legacy of his father and has created his own brand, style and signature, which have fueled his career to its current height. The moniker ‘Singy Singy’ aptly describes his youthful obsession with performing music, and even though he started out as a deejay, his flexible vocal structure and natural ability to use themes from every day experiences to write songs, allowed him to seamlessly transition into becoming a singer. He has also been praised for his ability to deliver his tunes with the same potency whether supported by traditional live instruments or by the more uptempo Jamaican dancehall beats. He did his first recording as a teenager, and since then, he steadily recorded material for various producers until 2004 when his debut album Challenges was released with an independent label from Miami Florida. This album was his formal introduction to the world as a gifted artiste, and featured treasured tracks like ‘Larger Than Life’ and ‘Save The Children.’
Tarrus followed up two years later in 2006 with his critically acclaimed sophomore album Parables. By this time he had begun to gain attention among mainstream music aficionados, with chart toppers such as ‘Stay With You’, ‘Beware’, ‘She’s Royal’, ‘Lion Paw’, among others. The album was produced by the talented and legendary Dean Fraser of Canon Productions, who Tarrus Riley praises for his vast musical knowledge, and for the powerful chemistry they share to create great songs. Commenting on the work, Tarrus has stated that “Working on Parables with Dean Fraser I wasn’t surprised at the success it has had, but just at how fast it all happened. I’ve known Dean a long time and to work with him on something as great and historic as Parables, is an honour. Parables set the foundation for everything else.”
His third album was eagerly anticipated. In 2009 Contagious was released by Cannon Productions. The album, which was distributed by VP Records, again contained major chart toppers and favourites such as ‘Start Anew’, ‘Contagious’, ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’(featuring Konshens) and ‘Superman,’ and it peaked at number five on the Billboard Reggae Album Chart.
With these under his belt, Tarrus developed a heavy touring schedule, to incorporate promoting new material, and to spread his brand of music at the various stages across Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean. However despite this rigorous schedule, between his third and fourth albums, , he released several tracks for other producers which have also maintained strong chart positions, and which have also kept his music up to date and relevant.
In 2010 ‘Protect the People’ was released, and this again performed strongly on several charts in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. Early 2011 saw the release of the Black History themed ‘Shaka Zulu Pickney.’ He followed up with ‘Come Ova’ and ‘Never leave I’ which also continued to make him consistently prominent within the genre.
Tarrus Riley released the acoustic album Mecoustic for Soulbeats Records in 2012, and followed up with an extensive tour to promote the album. Mecoustic again demonstrated the versatility of Tarrus Riley as a vocalist, and further cemented his acceptance in Jamaica as an ambassador for the genre.
His fifth studio gem, Love Situation, was released with huge anticipation in February 2014, and shortly after its release it earned him his first number one position on the Billboard Reggae Album chart. The 17-track album again features a powerhouse behind the production that has produced consistently admirable work over the decades. Leading this team is Dean Fraser who produced the album for Cannon Productions. Other contributors are the talented Shane Brown, Mitchum “Khan” Smith and Jordan McClure. It was mixed by Shane Brown and Romel Marshall and mastered by Grammy awardwinning engineer Michael Fuller. The lead single ‘Dem a Watch’ quickly gained an early spot on Jamaican charts, and has been rapidly gaining momentum and attention on other charts and on social media platforms.
TARRUS THE PERSON
Tarrus Riley considers himself as a voice of the people, and has set himself apart as someone who sings for the people. He defines himself as one who makes thought-provoking music about Black consciousness and experiences with the intention to open people’s minds and let them think.
“My music isn’t prejudiced towards colour, class, creed or nationality,” he explains.
“I target women and children with my music because slavery tampered with the woman’s mind and that’s why I wrote ‘She’s Royal’. She’s the head of the household so she has the power to influence the young men and women of tomorrow,” Riley adds.
To demonstrate his philosophy, Tarrus works with a group of friends on a movement proudly titled BLAKSOIL, the acronym for Bredren Living According to King Selassie-I Overstanding & Iritical Livity. Through this movement, Riley hopes to further target the consciousness of women and children.His interest in educating the youth about Black History resulted in the Tarrus Riley Freedom Writers Competition, which ran on Jamaica’s Irie FM radio station.
Tarrus Riley has consistently gained awards for his work, from the earliest stages to the present day. Among his accolades are Best Singer, Male Vocalist, Cultural Artiste, Song of the Year, and Best Song in Jamaica. Some of the entities which have rewarded him include the Youth View Awards, The Star People’s Choice Awards, and the Reggae Academy awards. He has also won CVM’s 15th Anniversary Award, held in February 2009, for the Most Admired Song in the Past 15 Years for the hit, ‘She’s Royal.’ He has also won the Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) Awards for Vocalist of the Year Male, and Cultural Artiste of the Year in 2011, and the 2011 Youth View Award for Cultural Artiste of the Year.
In 2013 he won two International Reggae and World Music Awards for the Best Male Vocalist, and Most Cultural/Educational Entertainer for 2012. In 2015 he again recaptured awards in both categories.
In 2014, Tarrus was inducted in the Caribbean Hall of Fame for his outstanding contribution in music and won the category of Rocksteady/Ska/Early Reggae in the French Reggae Awards.
His ‘GimmieLikkle One Drop’ was also added to BBC’s 1Xtra’s Official Playlist. GIVING BACK As Tarrus continues to soar, so has his altruistic spirit grown.
Tarrus organized a benefit concert for Akalia Moore, a student of Morant Bay High School who needed brain surgery. She was diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation and the procedure was to be done in Miami. Thankfully, the surgery was successful. His free concert in Emancipation Park has now become a calendar event staged in December in the heart of Kingston.
Tarrus has made great hits with some of pop culture’s finest, thereby continuing the Jamaican tradition of breaking the mold on the international scene. His latest collaborations include
• Powerful with Elli Goulding, produced by Major Lazer which went platinum in New Zealand.
• Crazy Love with Rock City
• Lay It All On Me with Ed Sheehan
Tarrus Riley is poised to continue making excellent music, to continue claiming awards, and to continue winning new fans with his talent. His work ethic has pushed him to maintain a steady position ahead of the pack. The sky is the limit.