Jamaican Music

“When I was writing No Letting Go, I wasn’t thinking about a hit song, I was thinking about making good music” – Conversation with Wayne Wonder

Wayne Wonder

With over 30 years as an artist to his name, singer Wayne Wonder has his share of hit songs, such as Saddest Day, Bashment Girl and No Letting Go. But he says making the charts has never been a big deal for him when composing.

“I never look at it as hit songs, I look at it as (writing) songs to comfort people, and to soothe you. When I was writing No Letting Go, I wasn’t thinking about a hit song, I was thinking about making good music. I don’t put any pressure on it,” he explained.

No Letting Go is his biggest hit song. Released in 2003, it made the Top 20 of charts in the United States and United Kingdom.

Wonder wrote two (Only Me and Fling It Up) of three new songs he has on the market. The other, I Am a King, is a cover of Delroy Wilson’s rocksteady classic, I’m Not A King.

He produced the latter for his Singso Music label as a tribute to Wilson, who influenced his vocal style. One of reggae’s early child stars, Wilson died in 1995 at age 46.

In 1992, Wonder had a massive hit with Movie Star, his dancehall take on I Don’t Know Why, another song Wilson did in the 1960s. He said it was Wilson who encouraged him to record the song.

Wonder is from McIntyre Villa, a tough community known as Dunkirk in East Kingston, Jamaica’s capital. That neighborhood has produced several top dancehall acts including Spragga Benz and Agent Sasco.

He exploded in the 1990s at Penthouse Records with songs like Movie Star and Saddest Days. Along with Beres Hammond, Marcia Griffiths and Buju Banton, Wonder put that label on the map.

He credits Hammond for helping him develop as a singer/songwriter.

“Him used to pass on him knowledge to mi. When mi used to sing (over) songs, Father Beres would sey mi mus’ write an’ sing the songs like a foreign tune, an’ that stick wid mi,” said Wonder. “Him sit down in the studio when mi was voicing Saddest Day, an’ him sey, ‘Waynie, that note flat, that note sharp’, an’ guide mi through the whole thing. Beres a like a teacher; Father Beres a one a mi biggest influence.”

Wonder has appeared as a guest on Buju Banton’s Long Walk to Freedom shows in Kingston, Nassau, The Bahamas and Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. On April 27, he is scheduled to perform on the series’ fourth show, in Bridgetown, Barbados.

About the author

Howard Campbell