Garnett Silk – The Smooth Crooner Who Transformed Reggae Music

Garnet Silk (born Garnet Smith in Manchester, Jamaica) epitomized dancehall reggae’s transition from its rough roots in the 1980s to more refined forms in the ’90s. Beginning as Little Bimbo deejaying on Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion label and later joining forces with Tony Rebel in Rastafarianism – Garnet Silk represented dancehall reggae as it evolved and reached new levels of sophistication during this transitional phase.

1. Problem Everywhere

Silk signed a major distribution deal and entered Tuff Gong studios with producer Errol Brown and Jamaica’s top session men to work on his second album, but never completed it due to tragic circumstances: on December 9 1994 while relaxing with friends at his mother’s home on his mother’s property one offered to show him how to operate one of several guns they brought along for show – one misfired and struck a propane tank, leading it to explode in an explosive manner and taking his life along with it.

Silk, born Garnett Smith in Manchester, Jamaica in 1966, epitomized dancehall reggae’s transition from “bad-bwoy” ’80s to the more sophisticated music of ’90s dancehall reggae. A fast learner, Silk first started performing as a deejay at age 12 under the moniker Little Bimbo before rapidly becoming an essential feature at sound systems across Jamaica and beyond.

In 1989, veteran singer Derrick Morgan took him into Bunny Lee’s Dunhaney Park studio in Bunny Lee to give him some fatherly advice: stop toasting and start singing! Heartbeat label’s Tony Rebel Meets Garnett Silk in a Dancehall Conference compiles these early Morgan-overseen recordings which capture Little Bimbo (formerly Garnett Silk) at an important crossroads in his career – some tracks feature pure toasts while others contain both toasts and singing; when Garnett Silk sang over an intense riddim, it was breathtaking!

2. Mama

Garnett Damoin Smith began his professional life as a child deejay and toaster at age 12. By the mid ’80s he was performing and recording under his original stage name of Little Bimbo; but after Sugar Minott discovered him through “No Disrespect”, Garnett Silk emerged to become one of Jamaica’s premiere dancehall performers – known for his warm tenor voice and awareness-raising lyrics which symbolised dancehall’s transformation from its violent bad-bwoy roots in the 80s to more culturally conscious ’90s roots.

After his 1992 debut album It’s Growing was an international smash hit, Silk signed an international distribution deal with Atlantic Records and entered Tuff Gong studios late 1994 to record tracks for his sophomore full-length. Ten songs had already been recorded when he returned home to visit his mother in Mandeville on December 9. Borrowing two guns from his attorney for protection, Silk was sitting with friends outside her house when one misfired, striking a propane tank and starting a house fire.

Silk was renowned as an accomplished songwriter with powerful messages of spirituality, social awareness and love in his lyrics and powerful vocals reminiscent of Bob Marley. Reggae Anthology: Music Is The Rod chronicles his life and work through an impressive variety of sonic textures recorded at Tuff Gong Studio (recording) and Couch Studios (mixing) before finally reaching Kariang Studio in Ocho Rios for mixing; featuring Sly & Robbie on guitar as well as session musicians like Tyrone Downie Earl “Wya” Lindo and Mikey Boo Richards among many more).

3. I Can See Clearly Now

Garnett Silk was widely revered in dancehall reggae circles as its next Bob Marley. His warm tenor voice and spiritually elevating music sparked a conscious revival amid the aggressive lyrics and overly masculine aesthetic of 1990s dancehall reggae; additionally, Garnett Silk played an essential part in expanding reggae music to wider audiences.

This song showcases his ability to craft beautiful melodies using extremely basic chord progressions, and its inviting acoustic sound makes it easy for even novice listeners to sing along and sing-a-long along to it. Furthermore, the lyrics contain positive imagery and offer hope and perspective shifts that bring clarity in difficult times.

Jeff Moore’s arrangement makes for a delightful addition to any band’s repertoire.

An upbeat song perfect for times of change in the lives of your students or colleagues, this piece by Jimmy Cliff is ideal. Simply have them close their eyes if possible and imagine a gorgeous sun rising after a storm has subsided; encourage movement such as gently swaying from side to side so they can truly experience its acoustic energy – a version by him was featured in John Candy’s Cool Runnings film of 1994!

4. Zion In A Vision

Garnett Silk was a singer whose warm tenor voice epitomized dancehall reggae’s evolution from violent and irreverent ’80s lyrics to more spiritually profound offerings of the early 1990s. A fast learner who began deejaying at Manchester Jamaica’s Soul Remembrance sound system under his nickname Little Bimbo, Garnett Silk soon earned comparisons to Bob Marley due to his vocal range and depth of emotion.

In 1989, veteran artist Derrick Morgan advised him to try singing instead. Soon enough, he recorded his debut hit single for Sugar Minott’s Youth Promotion label called “Mama”. Following that he worked as a deejay for producer Tony Rebel before transitioning into Rastafarianism and becoming Garnett Silk himself and deejaying for producers like King Tubby, Jack Scorpio, Donovan Germain, Steely & Robbie among many others.

After finding success on the music charts, he set off touring North America and Europe before collapsing during a concert at New York City’s Ritz Concert Hall and spending six months recuperating in Jamaica. Gold, released by Charm Records label in Britain shortly afterwards, showcased some of his biggest hits from this period.

As soon as he returned, he signed to Kariang Productions under Kallman’s advocacy, making his comeback debut at Rebel Salute 1994. Tragically, only 28 years later he died while trying to rescue his mother from a housefire; leaving behind a wife, three children, two brothers, various collections/dubplate compilations as tributes – Music Is the Rod is perhaps the ultimate tribute.

5. Fight Back

Garnett Silk’s spiritually elevating music was marked by his Rastafarian faith and challenging Jamaican upbringing, standing out in the dancehall scene during the late ’80s dancehall scene as one of its standout artists. Hailed as the next Bob Marley, his warm tenor voice epitomised an era of conscious reggae. These two discs include his hit singles “Problem Everywhere” and “Mama,” as well as Johnny Nash’s cover “I Can See Clearly Now,” to provide an authoritative overview of his musical legacy.

Fight Back sends a powerful message of self-belief and perseverance in the face of criticism from others, encouraging individuals to follow their dreams while remaining true to themselves. This song serves as the ideal anthem for all individuals striving to find their place in this life.

6. Thank You Jah

Garnett Silk epitomized dancehall reggae’s shift from its rough-and-tumble 1980s roots into culturally sophisticated 1990s music with his soothing tenor voice and thoughtful lyrics. Born Garnett Smith in Manchester Jamaica in 1966, his DJ career first kicked off at age 12 performing as Little Bimbo for sound systems such as Conquering Lion, Pepper’s Disco and Destiny Outernational where he met singer Tony Rebel; by late ’80s he had already recorded several hit tracks as well as secured an international distribution deal with international distribution deals that enabled him to expand worldwide audiences.

Garnett Silk first rose to fame thanks to veteran singer Derrick Morgan, who advised him to adopt the stage name Garnett Silk and change over to Youthman Promotion label’s Youthman Promotion label under Sugar Minott as producer for their album No Disrespect on Youthman Promotion label and later Tony Rebel who converted him to Rastafarianism; together they performed at major events like Reggae Sunsplash and Reggae SumFest festivals.

Silk entered Tuff Gong Studios with producer Errol Brown and Jamaica’s finest session musicians to record his second album in early 1994. As recording was near completion, Silk was tragically shot and killed while trying to rescue his mother from a housefire – the bullet accidentally striking a propane gas tank and setting fire to their home – at 28 years old he died trying to rescue her; posthumously released as Thank You Jah it eventually saw release posthumously under that title.