The Reggae Marathon Victory Party starts early and continues throughout Saturday morning at Long Bay Beach Park. Once through the finish chute and after you’ve received your medal, grabbed a coconut and maybe even a Red Stripe, it’s time to enjoy the entertainment.
The headline act at the Reggae Marathon Victory Party is Voice Mail, the biggest unintentional secret in Dancehall/Reggae music since SNOW. A shared destiny and ambition has bonded these three singers: Craig Jackson, Kevin Blaire and Oniel Edwards together as one group who have been performing as a unit for the last 5 years.
They quickly became recognized for their intro trademark “You’ve got mail, Voice Mail!…Heyeee. Voice Mail has been making waves in Jamaica with charting singles such as “Weh Di Time” and their succession of videos. It’s their energetic stage performances, that fail to hide the enjoyment shining in their eyes from the pure pleasure of being in front of audiences at key events like: Spring Fest 2004, Sumfest 2004 and Fully Loaded, that are wining over critical audiences.
Like many groups in Jamaica today, the three met up a local talent show. By 2003, the trio was actively working with producers. Their first recording was with radio personality and producer Arif Cooper. They laced an R&B fashioned tune “Never Really Want To Let You Go” with such ease and finesse that, if this song was your introduction to Voice Mail, you would assume they were strictly an R&B group. However, like many talented youths from Jamaica, Dancehall Reggae is the heritage, the music and the largest influence. Although the group is notably inclined to R&B, appreciating artists such as Boyz To Men and Jodeci, it was the direct exposure growing up to Wayne Wonder and Sanchez, as well as Scare Dem Crew, of which Craig’s older brother was a member, which molded their musical direction.
Like any group, the three have their distinctly different dynamics. Craig is the mushy one, who is always cuddling, lovable and laid back. However at the same time, he’s the one that they all agree is most miserable and meticulous when it comes to recording. Anything less than perfection is simply not an option! Kevin Blaire, a former model is surprisingly the quietest and most unassuming member of the group. He describes himself without airs, for the most part, “I’m just a happy go lucky person, always bouncy and ready for anything”. Once you get to Oniel, the baritone voice of the group, it is clear that he is the leader, the organizer and the unspoken boss. Always an entrepreneur, Oniel had his own business importing and selling goods prior to joining the group. Kevin even shares “He’s the man that while we sleep, he’s there pon the phone calling this person and that person, setting us up to record and all those things. He’s the man in charge”.
Teaming up with Danny Champagne of Champagne Records in Jamaica signaled the start of a distinctive period of growth in recordings and relationships. This independent producer actually puts forth more energy in promoting his recordings as demonstrated by the coordination of a video for Voice Mail with Delly Ranks, also featuring dancer Bogle, for their collaboration “Weh Di Time”. This video truly helped provide Voicemail and Champagne with extra promotions since it was aired on all of Jamaica’s local video channels, even in New York where several programs are re-broadcasted. Later, “She Want It”, another collaboration with Delly Ranks, was recorded by esteemed Dancehall producer Tony CD Kelly, known for his timeless riddim tracks for the Grindin riddim, allowed them another hit locally and more penetration Internationally.
Voice Mail are focused on quality recordings, not mixing up the pot or going for the shock factor just for the sake of publicity. Songs they record portray feel good vibes and at the same time intelligence. Voice Mail is determined to keep moving forward and break into the International market. Voice Mail provides just the right vibe to add to your celebration December 4 after you successfully complete your Reggae Marathon.
Until next time…
that running guy