Like all parents, Alfred and Hyacinth Elliott had dreams of their children doing something big, doing something good for their life. And with nine of them, (Rose, Osbourne, Elaine, Allan, Jean, Beverly, Trevor, Martin and Maxi being # 8), you can only imagine what a handful they had!
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Upon migrating to England from Jamaica in the late 50's with five of those children, Max Elliott known as Maxi Priest was born on June 10th, in Lewisham, London England, along with two brothers and one sister. His father was a steelworker in a factory, while his mother devoted her life to Christianity; she was a missionary at a Pentecostal Church and lead singer for the church choir.
Next we find our hero making himself a living as a carpenter. After being asked to build speaker boxes for a local reggae sound-system, Saxon, he was singing over the mic at their live dancehall sessions with folks like Smiley Culture, and made history in 1984 after he and Paul "Barry Boom" Robinson produced Philip Levi's "Mi God Mi King"; the first UK reggae tune to reach number one in Jamaica.
And that is just the beginning…
On his 1987 "Maxi" album, he collaborated with leading Jamaican rhythm section Sly & Robbie. "Some Guys Have All the Luck" and a cover of Cat Steven's "Wild World" brought him worldwide recognition, and all of a sudden, he is one of Britain's best-loved artists. But what really catches is when Maxi goes political on us with "How can we ease the pain?" Co written by Maxi and R. Simpson, this song questions the unfairness of life. "Electing Ones with no feelings" and wondering "…who's gonna pay for their (children) tomorrow…TELL ME", he demands. Makes you wanna answer that question fast quick and easy…The offbeat syncopated "It ain't easy" can throw you into a funk as well…(a good funk that is…)
His debut album titled "You're Safe" featured his band Caution. (You know what I am talking about: "Caution, me say you got to watch Caution…jah man, jah man, jah man, jah man…") This is some deep stuff! The band and Maxi sounds so tight, you would think that they were all raised together in the same house…The flow of the song is smooth and consistent, upbeat and crisp. At this point there was no way we can see where Maxi was getting ready to take us.
Now we are off to take a listen at "Intentions"…I am not sure what his intention was…but it worked! He is smoother now and got a little pop flavor going on. Crazy Love drives you crazy! The coolest sneak peak into the heart of a many whom is his lovers' biggest fan. He had you running home to your man or woman, popping in the CD and slow dancing the night away. Then the song "let me know" echoed what a lot of hearts is trying to say! "If your dreams are without me…let me knoooooooooooooooooow, ho, oh girl…"JUST LET THE BROTHA KNOW…(I don't know about you, but I found myself pressing the rewind on this songs just one times to many…)
In 1988, Maxi's self-titled album reminded us of the older siblings of his hits, "Wild Wild World" and "Susan You Are". But for some reason, we are loving "Problems" and "Same Old Story" just a little bit more…By now I am truly appreciating this brother.
For Bonafide, he got together with Sly & Robbie again. What do you think happened next? Of course! "Close To You" was born and it topped the US Billboard pop chart. "Peace throughout the world" had you feeling like going to church, "Just a little bit longer" had you happy to be together again and "Best of Me" was just too smooth for its own good.
Soon after that, a Greatest Hits collection called "Best of Me" was released in 1991. You know that Jezebel, the Britain Queen, living her life like a back street dream? Well, her song is on there…(which brought Maxi to the forefront and in the faces of the American pop culture once and for all). Shabba and Maxi's "Housecall" landed its spot on CD (and the video played on BET day in and day out. I was looking for someone to call and schedule me an appointment)!
"Strollin On" was the romance kicker. Do me a favor, go get the CD, stick it in your CD ROM, play track 8…okay.close your eyes, don't open them until the song ends…Okay, now, Did you feel like you could walk side by side, walking in time next to your mate and just be in love all over again? Lips tasting like honey and stuff…WHOA!…time to calm down…
But when "Fe Real" did come out, oh what a joy! It was a blend of contemporary street styles; his voice searching, melodiously and gracing eclectic mix of romance and reality. You find that you "can't turn away". All the "promises" he makes on this album make you "just wanna know". You find yourself "groovin in the midnight" until the night "make my day". Then at "ten to midnight" you give the CD "one more chance" and find yourself feeling "sublime". "amazed are we" that this CD wasn't "hard to get" in the first place…
Even the CD cover is gorgeous…
In the mist of all of his all, Maxi was in film with a role next to Christopher Walken in the movie "Scam", started kicking it with Shaggy ("One More Chance") and Apache Indian and doing some real groovy thangs for them prior to the release of "Fe Real".
A year after its release he announced the launch of his own Dugout label in the UK. From there he has been actively involved with the development of local talent, recording highly acclaimed UK soul singer Elisha Laverne among other promising reggae, soul, rap and jungle acts.
"Man With The Fun" - his seventh consecutive album for Virgin - brought Maxi to the applause of that many more folks around the world. Ever the musical pioneer, he's again chosen a varied platform; either brilliantly combining classic soul, pop or rhythm and blues with up front reggae on his and Shaggy's opening "That Girl" , or singing gospel-like on the uplifting "Love Will Cross Over". His rendition of Sting's "Message in a bottle" is slamming and reminds you that, in this world, you are never alone.
So, after Transcending from the Caribbean sound, known as Reggae music, Maxi Priest has achieved success and international fame worldwide in Popular music, known as Pop. Signing to Virgin Records in 1985. He has achieved #1's, Top Ten hit singles on the Billboard Charts, R& B Charts, Top of the Pop Charts, Reggae, Jazz, Country and many other charts around the world. Nominated 3 times for a Grammy Award and other Awards for outstanding achievements. Numerous soundtracks such as 'How Stella got her Groove Back" , Scam, and House Party 2. Working with a wide range of legendary artists, Roberta Flack, Lee Ritneour, Sly & Robbie, Lisa Fisher, Soul II Soul, Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Joe, Toni Rich, Monifah, Apache Indian, Dennis Brown, Yuji Oda, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Glamour Kid, Degree (to name just a few to have come from his stable), Talk shows such as David Letterman, Arsenio Hall, Vibe, Morning Show, MTV, Bay Watch, BET, VH!, working with producers and directors such as Kevin Brae, Hype Williams, Todd Hollman, appearing at the Wembly "Free Nelson Mandela" Concert, seven best-selling albums and currently releasing the new album "ComBination", in Japan April 28th, and the U.S. release date July 13th, 1999.
He's been classified vocally with Frank Sinatra. He is a pioneer like his legendary peers the honorable Robert Nestor Marley AKA Bob Marley, The Prince Dennis Emanuel Brown (known as Dennis Brown), and Marvin Gaye. He continues to speak the word in Reggae music in the inter and outer national world and His recordings & live performances showcase a marvelous voice, impeccable songs sense and the ability to tackle a wide range of material. He has created a screaming pandemonium of excitement and with the ability to thrill the hearts of any audience.
If you were just looking for one word to describe Maxi Priest…it would be
…Having a smooth rich flow (a mellifluous voice) Filled with something (as honey) that sweetens the heart and minds of the world…
…Hmmm…sounds SO good
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