b. Melville O’Connor, 18 May 1968, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. O’Connor’s initial aspirations as a singer began when he was a student at Kingston’s College of Further Education. On achieving his qualifications he immigrated to Rochester, New York, USA. In 1982 his reputation as a competent performer bought him to the attention of the US-based producer, Roydale Anderson, who was suitably impressed when he caught Jah Mel performing in a dancehall style on the Zodiac Sound System. Inspired by his distinctive vocal technique Anderson immediately took him to the recording studio. The sessions were recorded in Jamaica and were compiled for release on his 1985 debut Watchful Eyes. Anderson recruited members of the original Wailers band who supplied the rhythms including, Carlton Barrett (drums), Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett (bass guitar) and Earl Lindo (keyboards). In 1990, Jah Mel recorded ‘Don’t Be Cruel’, complete with accompanying promotional video. The video was greeted with critical acclaim by the media, and the recognition resulted in the short film being showcased on the US television programme Reggae Strong. Although Jah Mel is a soloist his regular backing band, featuring Dean Miller (bass guitar), Tony Hillier (drums), Tim ‘Moog’ (keyboards) and Charlie Curran (backing vocals/percussion), were incorrectly considered to be part of a group performing under that name. Jah Mel maintained notoriety with a number of hits including ‘Hot, Cool And Vicious’ (with R Ruff) and ‘Get Ready’ (with Rhythm Factory), alongside the solo hit ‘Ruff For Years’. Jah Mel performed conscientious lyrics over prevalent rhythms, which resulted in inevitable comparisons with the affiliate First Born Management performer Jah Mali. The album was a hit in Europe and met with considerable approval. Following its release, however, Jah Mel withdrew from his musical pursuits.
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