Reggae artist Kingly T. began his musical journey in Kingston, Jamaica. It was there that he served as a guitarist for an outfit known as Ninja Force. Kingly T. and other legendary musicians from the band helped usher in the 90’s music culture and what would be the new face ...
Reggae | World Music/Contemporary
Jamaica might be the home of reggae and ska, but over the course of half a century the music has become a global sound. These days you can hear it in almost every country and every state. Yet the real thing, that true reggae feel with conscious, uplifting lyrics can be remarkably hard to find. But guitarist, singer, and songwriter Kingly T is definitely the real thing. Born in Kingston, raised in the music, he delivers a proper, sweet skanking beat on his fourth album, Life in the City (released November 3, 2015)
“I’ve never liked to follow trends,” Kingly T explains. “It’s much better to set my own, there’s no need to follow others. I’ve established my sound, and I’m happy with myself.”
The music on Life in the City has classic reggae as its base, the sound that moves T’s soul, but jazz, his other great love – the beauty of artists like George Benson and Ernest Ranglin on the fretboard – is there in the very tasty, concise runs that color and fill out the melodies.
Just as important as the music are the lyrics. That very positive feel is the rock around which Kingly T builds everything.
“I like honor, respect, something to encourage people. I wanted to write words that will stay in the mind and help people improve their lives. I write about everyday life in the system we all experience, how it really is, and how we can all make it better.”
In that he takes his inspiration from the real roots of reggae, the work of all the original members of the Wailers, Third World, and others. That was the sound of Jamaica as he grew up. During his childhood, reggae filled the air.
“My father loved to play,” Kingly T recalls. “He was a great musician, good on the banjo, guitar – he even played the bamboo flute! He’d get all of us together in the evening, we’d each pick up an instrument and we’d have jam sessions. That’s how I first came to love music.”
He gravitated to the guitar, eventually attending the Jamaica School of Music and earning a diploma in performance. As a member of the band Ninja Force, he helped usher in the new era of reggae at the start of the 1990s, before becoming a session guitarist and recording an instrumental album, The Bounce.
But it’s with his songs that Kingly T has truly blossomed. Leading his own band he’s toured all over the Caribbean, throughout Mexico and all across his adopted home in the United States, traveling as far as South Africa and Zimbabwe to sing and play for the crowds.
“I’ve been writing for years,” Kingly T says, “and with Life in the City I decided to revisit some of my older songs, as well as new ones, so I can give people a taste of all my different styles.”
And those older pieces have been carefully selected. “Eastward Bound,” for instance, first appeared as a single, making global waves in 2013, and cut here in a new version with the band, while “Baby I Want you,” dates back even further – the first song he ever wrote. Yet they sit easily alongside material like “Teach Them,” a paean about bringing your children up the right way, or the passion-fueled “Cool Down,” a song that highlights T’s emotive voice among some delicious horn charts. The title cut sways like a warm city evening, and “Hot Blooded” is steamy and sensual enough to easily live up to its title.
“I’m lucky to have a good band to play the songs,” Kingly T says. “The bassist and keyboard player are both from Indiana, but they have a real feel for the music. The drummer grew up in Jamaica. It’s strange; we played together over there, then I moved to the U.S., and a couple of years later he came over. He’s a great foundation for everything.”
The spirit of Kingly T shines through his music. A good man, a positive man who lives his life in an upright way. One who understands that a positive word can travel a long way.
“This is what I do,” Kingly T says. “It’s from the way I was raised, what my parents showed me. If the songs of Life in the City can give people some hope or a little inspiration when they feel down, then I’ve done something good.”
Titus “Kingly T” Whittle :Lead Vocals,lead and rhythm guitars
Leslie Randolph : Backup vocals and harmony arrangements
Jennifer Grove : Keyboards,synthesizer,organs
Dave Grove : Bass guitar,
Anthony”Screw” Hunter Drums and Percussion
Ryan Marsh: Saxophone
Music arranged by Titus “ Kingly T” Whittle and Kingly T band
Horns arrangement : Dave Grove
All songs written by Titus Nathaniel Whittle
Produced by Benjamin Jackson
Executive Producer:Titus “Kingly T” Whittle
The Music Garage
Recording Engineer: Chris Wodock
Mix Engineer:Benjamin Jackson
Album Cover Photography:Spotlight Photography