b. Lionel Barker, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Barker was raised in a musical environment; his father was the local Calypso King, Lord Jellico and his mother Esmie sang in the church choir. He was educated in Western Kingston where he attended the St. Anne’s primary school, but was often present at his father’s recording sessions. Barker also gleaned his initial experiences in the studio at this time when he was asked to play the triangle and also provide backing vocals during recording sessions. In 1968, Barker witnessed the phenomenal rise in the number of outdoor sound systems playing R&B and local hits, which inspired him to form the trio Bingie Barker And The Astronaughts. The band played locally where they maintained an adequate profile, although they failed to make a significant impression abroad. The group disbanded in 1972 when Barker emigrated to Canada where he completed his education at the Algonquin College of Arts Science and Technology. He was recruited to provide lead vocals for the Sound Of Freedom band, who enjoyed local popularity and regularly performed alongside visiting Jamaican artists such as the Fabulous Five Inc. and Inner Circle. In 1979, Barker hosted the first Afro-Caribbean radio programme broadcast in the nation’s capital. In November of that year Barker interviewed Bob Marley and following the singer’s death in 1981 the duo’s dialogue has been broadcast annually on Channel 22 as a tribute to the reggae king. In 1990, Barker formed the Raggamuffin Band, featuring a cosmopolitan line-up with local musicians from other Caribbean islands and Africa. The group performed throughout the 90s and were acknowledged as Band Of The Year while Barker was recognised as Vocalist Of The Year in Ottawa’s reggae awards. The line-up featured Coleridge Jnofinn (drums), Vince Johnson (bass), Popo Murigande (guitar), Kagiso Impala (keyboards), with backing vocals provided by Barker’s wife Paulette and daughter Kelly alongside Sandra Latty and Miriam Edwards. In 1999, the group’s debut finally surfaced with an album launch in Ottawa’s Hard Rock Café. The release of Rebel.Com acknowledged the emergence of MP3 and various tracks, including one of the first Internet chart-busters, ‘Mr President’, were featured on websites such as theorbit.com, reggaetrain.com, amp3.com and francemp3.com. The song was also included on the soundtrack of Spanish Moss 2000. The line-up for the Raggamuffin debut release featured Steve Hollingsworth (keyboards, drum programming, vocals), Ross McRae (guitar) Charlie Grassi (keyboards), while DJ vocals were provided by Alton ‘Killa’ Ardent.
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