b. Ryan Thomas, 5 April 1972, Vere, Clarendon, Jamaica, West Indies. Thomas was the ninth of 10 children and was raised among the sugar plantations in the Jamaican countryside. His love for the dancehall sounds of Shabba Ranks, Pinchers, Red Dragon and Wayne Wonder inspired a move to Kingston, where he embarked on his own musical career. He received encouragement from King Jammy, Philip ‘Fatis’ Burrell and Tony Rebel, although they remained hesitant about producing his work. Rebel subsequently introduced Thomas to the Rastafarian faith, which prompted a radical change in the young singer’s approach. Performing as Jahmali, he began voicing hits for Donovan Germain, Bobby Digital and Roof International’s Barry O’Hare. A string of hits followed, including the inspired ‘Victory’, ‘Let Me Live’, ‘Wake Up’ and ‘El Shaddai’. Jahmali’s association with O’Hare led to a collaboration with Mikey Spice, who had set up his own Ingredients label. Spice produced for Jahmali’s ‘Let Jah Be Praised’ and ‘Only Love’, both of which demonstrated his new, conscientious stance. Jahmali’s critically acclaimed debut album featured many top Jamaican performers, including Earl ‘Chinna’ Smith, Sly And Robbie, Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore and Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett. Jahmali’s reputation was further enhanced when he recorded ‘Mother’s Cry’ with Buju Banton, featured on the latter’s accomplished 1997 release Inna Heights. Following his combination success, Jahmali released his own ‘Cry People’ and the haunting ‘Politics’.
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