If you’re talking music in Portugal, Richie Campbell is a big name. He plans to show Bermuda why next month when he gets on the stage at No 1 Car Park with his 12-member back-up group, The 911 Band.
“Wherever I go, I would rather go with a full team than with a sound system,” said Campbell, whose R&B, dancehall and reggae hits have made him a star.
“We need everybody to make people see the full experience; the whole experience as a band is what captivates people and that’s what we’re trying to do. All I can say is I promise to deliver the best show that I can possibly deliver.”
JSC Promotions and Veterans in Action are behind Live in Concert. The show is being held to commemorate the 170th anniversary of the arrival of Bermuda’s first Portuguese immigrants. It will also include David Rodigan, “the official reggae selector and soundclash champion”, and Romain Virgo, the Jamaican reggae singer whose album Lovesick, hit No 1 on Billboard’s reggae albums chart last year.
“It’s gonna be my first time ever in Bermuda,” said Campbell, who recently performed in Cape Verde and Mozambique and heads to Angola after he leaves here.
“I know a few artists from Bermuda — Collie Buddz, and C’Daynger from back in the day — but I only recently became aware it has a huge Portuguese community.
“To be invited to perform on such an important date is incredible. I don’t know what to expect from the audience there, but knowing that I am to perform with [Romain], a great friend of mine, it’s an opportunity for my team and his team to get together in Bermuda and celebrate a day that’s important for Portugal and its people and Bermuda.”
Born in Lisbon, the 32-year-old fell in love with reggae as a child.
“My mother is British. She lived in the UK through the Bob Marley time and so I grew up around reggae; my mother introduced me to all the greats. To me, it was just a part of growing up but, coincidentally, when I was 15 or 16, there was a huge reggae boom in the whole of Europe. I started going out at night to reggae clubs, to dancehall clubs. I was fortunate enough to grow up in that environment.”
Convinced he could do the same, he started performing. Reggae was his focus at that time and he released his debut album, My Path, in 2010. The next year he became the first artist without a record deal to fill the 10,000-seat Campo Pequeno in Lisbon.
“I started dropping music in Portugal more consistently and it coincided with the boom of reggae music in Europe,” said Campbell who has since signed with Sony Music. “It blew up huge in Portugal and that’s pretty much it.”
Despite the success in his own country, he decided he needed to spend time in Jamaica if he wanted to be taken seriously.
“I started singing reggae and was doing so in English and so I had to go there to prove my worth rather than stay [in Portugal]. I had to know that what I was doing was good enough for Jamaica.
“A lot of artists in Portugal feel like they’re doing a service to reggae, when they’re not.
“The first time when I went to Jamaica, I didn’t have a career. I was just starting out and wanted to learn more. At the time there was this guy, a reggae promoter who organised a lot of shows in Portugal. He had some contacts so we were able to meet important people there.”
Lisboa, his most recent offering, showed how his music had evolved from pure reggae to dancehall and R&B.
“My last album seems more of a unique genre. I wanted to pay as much tribute to the country I’m from as well as the country I fell in love with. I tried to find something that [also] represented my connection with my Portuguese and British heritage, singing music from all the cultures of reggae,” Campbell said.
• Live in Concert takes place at 8pm under the big tent at No 1 Shed on November 3. Richie Campbell, Romain Virgo and David Rodigan will perform along with C’Daynger, DJ Rusty G and YGS. Tickets — $85 general admission and $200 VIP — are available at Cafe Acoreano, Vasco Da Gama, People’s Pharmacy, Kit n’ Caboodle, Belvin’s Variety, Somers Supermarket, Freshmen and bdatix.bm