FREDDIE MCGREGOR, O.D.
Internationally acclaimed, Grammy-nominated singer, Freddie McGregor, O.D., has made significant contributions to Reggae music since inception, and has also helped to shape it with his conscious lyrics and Philly-Soul style for over 50 years. Equally adept as a romantic crooner or as an emissary of strong cultural messaging, his undeniable vocal ability boasts hits like Push Come to Shove, Africa Here I Come, I Was Born A Winner, Guantanamera, his signature Big Ship, Lock Dem’ Down and Bangarang (both chart topping hits from album “Comin’ in Tough”) and American soul classics like, Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely (Ronnie Dyson) and Can I Change My Mind (by Tyrone Davis).
With his profound natural talent and influenced by legends Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Alton Ellis, Ken Boothe, Bob Andy and many others, Freddie finessed his craft to become one of reggae’s greatest singers. Early tracks like Why Did You Do It and Do Good and Good Will Follow You propelled his career in the mid-sixties. He followed the group the Claredonians to Kingston and later teamed up with Ernest “Fitzroy” Wilson to form the duo Fitzie and Freddie recording for Coxone Dodd’s Studio One label. In 1975, Freddie’s musical and lyrical content changed with a strong slant towards social consciousness with tunes like Mark of the Beast, I Am A Rasta and reggae classic Bobby Babylon. He released his long awaited album “Mr. McGregor” in 1977, which contained reggae mainstays such as Zion Chant, Rastaman Chant and Walls of Jericho marking a major milestone in his stellar career and paving the way for his 1981 single Big Ship, which has become one of reggae’s classics and biggest hits.
In 1989, Freddie launched his own label entitled, Big Ship, featuring “Jamaica Classics: Volume One” as the first major release, which included popular tunes like “Let Him Try and Derrick Harriots Loser (by Derrick Harriot). Today, Big Ship is the most recognized Reggae label in Japan handling its own production, manufacturing, distribution and promotions while having produced several reggae artists including General Degree, Cutty Ranks, Mikey Spice, Benjy Myaz and Freddie’s daughter, Yeshemabeth. His album entitled Anything for You featuring the songs Uncle Sam, I See It In You and Anything for You, was nominated for a Grammy in 2002. Video productions include the historic Super Stars Extravaganza DVD, highlighting rare concert footage from the 1989 Denbigh Show Ground with live performances by such greats like Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Cocoa Tea, Barrington Levy, Frankie Paul, Carlene Davis and the legendary Tamlins.
Over the years, Freddie has consistently “given back” to the community supporting underprivileged youths in
communities in Jamaica through scholarships or guiding their musical careers. With events such as Rock Steady Meets Reggae, promoting unity within the Reggae fraternity and Reggae by the Lake, Freddie encourages positive family values through music. In 2010, he designed and donated a decorative mask for the Education Africa Gala silent auction (others designers included Sting, Paris Hilton, Simon Cowell and Sir Bob Geldof) to support access to education. A strong advocate for the protection and promotion of the music industry, his credited accolades/titles include serving as Chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association, receiving both the prestigious Jamaican Order of Distinction (2003) and a Sumfest Award (2012) for his contribution to Jamaican music and culture. Always ready to perform, Freddie continues to please his fans throughout the world.
He has completed over 30 albums to date and headlined international concerts and venues including Poland’s Blue Note, Japan’s Jumping Splash, Reggae Sunsplash (Clapham Common), the Cartegena Festival (Colombia), Midem (France), the Jamaican Expo (performing for Nelson Mandela and Prince Charles), the London Hammersmith Apollo performing with John Holt and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Annual Caribbean Tourism Week (NYC), Reichold Center for the Performing Arts (USVI) and many others. His song, Lovers Rock, was featured in the critically acclaimed HBO film “Disappearing Acts” and inducted an Apollo Living Legend at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater Salute. His latest project “True to My Roots”, attests to the experience, intensity and wisdom that are uniquely Freddie.
It’s a disc that genuinely has something enjoyable for every demographic but can be listened to and enjoyed without the burden of trends, market values or any other preconceptions. This is not the “phoned-in” exercise of a weary veteran content to coast on the past, but the sound of a leader scanning the landscape with a positive view, with an eye to opportunity, not content to pick at consumed carcasses, but mindful always of the need to stay grounded “true to his roots” as the title track proclaims.