One of the few Jamaican singers to truly bridge the gap between the roots and dancehall reggae styles is the man known as Everton "Blender." When reggae fans hear the opening notes of "Lift Up Your Head," "Ghetto People Song," "Blend Dem," etc., they instantly recognize these songs as the cultural anthems of our time. The large number of hits Everton has accrued is most impressive for an artist who has been in the business for such a seemingly short period of time. But like many of Jamaica's biggest musical stars, the road to fame wasn't a short or easy one.
Everton Williams was born in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica, but grew up in Kingston 13 on Maxfield Avenue. Everton worked as a painter, construction worker, and decorator, but he realized that the strong chemicals he was working with were not good for his voice or his health in general. With divine help and direction, he decided to leave his job to pursue a singing career. In 1980, he met Phyllis Thompson (who would later become his wife), and moved back to Clarendon. In 1985, Everton and Phyllis' first child, Isha, was born.
Although Everton had recorded a handful of singles for various producers, he had yet to score with a hit on the island. But that was all about to change in 1991 he voiced the autobiographical "Create a Sound." The song described Everton's experiences in the music business and with the Rasta faith. It was released the following year on the Star Trail label, and it was Everton Blender's first hit. Everton continued to record for Star Trail, who had a distribution deal with Heartbeat Records. 1994's Lift Up Your Head (HB 169) was Everton's full length debut, and featured "Create a Sound," along with the hits, "Family Man," "Bring di Kutchie," "My Father's Home," "Gwaan Natty," and the title track, which would go on to become one of the biggest anthems of the 1990's.
Everton continued to record for Star Trail and other labels, scoring hits including "Blend Dem," "World Corruption," "Bob Marley," "Piece of the Blender," "The Man," and "Coming Harder," all collected on the 1996 album, Piece of the Blender: The Singles (HB 209). At this time, Everton decided to take charge of his career and start his own label, which he named Blend Dem Productions. He began to finance most of his own recordings, a move that proved to heighten tension between him and many who wished to control the music production and promotion on the island. But he persevered, knowing that being in control of his career was the right decision, and his relationship with Heartbeat became even stronger. In 1999, Heartbeat released Everton Blender's first album of Blend Dem productions, Rootsman Credential (HB 227). Alongside boom shots like "Ghetto People Song," "Why Do We Have to War," and "False Words" was Everton's own productions including "Slick Me Slick," "These Hands," and many more strong statements of Everton's faith and will to succeed. Since the release of Rootsman Credential, Everton has toured the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean-establishing himself as one of the top touring forces from Jamaica. Live at the White River Reggae Bash (HB 242) captures Everton performing his most popular material with the Blend Dem band.
As the millennium came to a close, Heartbeat released an album of new Blend Dem productions that includes top acts riding Everton Blender produced rhythms. Dance Hall Liberation (HB 246) features Anthony B, Tony Rebel, Louie Culture, Richie Spice, Everton Blender, daughter Isha, and others. Everton was also executive producer on Richie Spice's debut album, Universal (HB 103), and plays a role in Spanner Banner's new release, Real Love (HB 249).
Blender's album released in 2001, Visionary (HB 254), consisted of his trademark conscious commitment over sizzling roots and dancehall self-productions. With guest appearances by Bennie Man, Anthony B, Tony Rebel, and Marcia Griffiths along with Everton's own strong performance, the album garnered favorable reviews throughout the music press. 2001 and 2002 also marked excellent touring year for Blender, where he headlined several major reggae events.
King Man (HB 258) is the latest work of Blend Dem Productions. This new album is the latest installment in Blender's legacy of excellent reggae music for the discerning listener. Expect to see Everton Blender somewhere near you as he tours later this year to support the release.
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