Taking his name worldwide
Some things are worth the wait.
Mr Duke can attest to that. A single father who put his musical aspirations on hold for decades, he’s finally in a place where he can focus on his talent.
One of his idols, Ansel Cridland, is a backing vocalist on his latest album Not Me Name; he was pleased with the reception it received in New York.
“I started off with Ital Foundation and Third and Fourth Generation. We used to sing three-part harmony — this was years ago,” said the artist, who was born Dwayne Burrows. “I put out my first single, Thief in the Vineyard, in 2009 and then did an album, No Partiality.
“Now I’m bringing out another style. That was more like a listening album; this new one is more dance.”
He wrote Thief in the Vineyard in 1983 but the song sat around for years while he concentrated on his business, Interior/Exterior Quality Painting, so he could feed his family.
“I’m a single father. My son, Keilo ... his mother, Robin Govia, passed away.
“I had to raise him on my own and then help with my grandchildren. It’s been about finding the windows to do what I have to do between work and what I love.
“I’ve got another album ready to roll but it’s just finding the time. And doing it on my own is expensive, my first album set me back $10,000, so if there are any sponsors out there I would love some help.
“I like to do things myself but sometimes you need to stretch out a hand. This way it may take longer but I will get it done.”
Not Me Name was recorded at Mercy Sound Studios in New York and produced by Cridland, a member of The Meditations.
The Jamaican reggae vocal harmony group formed in the 1970s; Mr Duke met them when they played here.
“Our singing style was the same and I used to emulate them,” he said. “I wrote my own lyrics and I would sing to [Cridland] over the phone.
“I used to emulate his voice with his songs and now he’s a backing vocalist on my tracks.”
Inspiration for the song Not Me Name came from a girl he thought was a friend until he found out she was calling him a sucker behind his back.
“I was really upset when I got the message,” he said. “Sometimes people put you in a different light, people label you, I guess everybody in life goes through it, and when the truth comes out they got nothing to say. Even when somebody wrongs you they never come back to say sorry. And it’s out there. She scandalised my name and never came back to say sorry.”
However, it worked in his favour. The song caught the attention of Tony Cobb, a DJ on New York’s WVIP 93.5FM, who invited Mr Duke to sit in on his show.
“People were calling in from Russia, from Canada, from China and liking the song,” he said.
Just as impressive was walking into Mercy Sound Studios and seeing the talent that had recorded there before him.
“Looking around me I saw all these plaques, [rapper] Drake, all these famous Latin artists, and I got in there.
“The Meditations have produced a lot of artists, people like Barrington Levy.
“I know I’m respected among top-notch musicians. It’s a humbling experience to know I’m walking among greatness, seeing other artists’ work and them giving me my respect.”
His hope is to take Not Me Name “worldwide”.
“I want to take it to the UK, to Germany,” he said.
• Copies of Not Me Name are $15 and available directly from Mr Duke at 518-2939