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Monday, Aug 15 2011 | 14:08 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

It’s been over 15 years since that rich, impossibly sensitive voice first cast its spell on reggae fans with a reinterpretation of Simply Red’s “Lady In Red.” When Sanchez takes on a proven R&B hit, he doesn’t just rekindle the torch, he sets the airwaves on fire. Born Kevin Anthony Jackson, Sanchez grew up in the Stony Hill and Waterhouse sections of Kingston, Jamaica. Like many of the island’s vocal legends, his first singing experience was in church, specifically St. Catherine parish’s Rehobth Epostlic Church. “I started at age six,” he recalls. “Then, I was drafted into Sunday school choir at 11.” By 13, he was singing the leads and conducting the Junior Choir.

The lure of Jamaica’s sound system dances eventually proved as powerful as Sunday mornings at church. At nineteen, Sanchez became the selector for the popular Rambo Sound System, which “carried” top deejays of the day Flourgan, Daddy Lizard, and Red Dragon. It was this mic-rocking trinity that dubbed Kevin Jackson “Sanchez,” after he executed an overhead scissors kick during an impromptu game of football, a feat associated with a popular South American pro player of the same name. Jamaica’s Sanchez displayed equal skill in dance halls as a triple threat selector. “I used to select and chat on the mic at the same time, then even flip the record over onto the version side and sing. I would create havoc,” he recalls. He’s still setting off dancehall bedlam today with his own Sexylus Sound. “I used to play that thing myself until ’96 or ’97,” he says. “I did everything – play, select, sing, and chat on the mic, until I got good people to run it.”

Despite his success with Rambo, Sanchez never let go of his dream to make it as a singer, but Kingston’s producers were flooded with hopefuls begging for a chance on a studio mic. “I didn’t know any producers and every time I go to a studio to do some form of audition, they would tell me to come back in three weeks time or whatever,” he recalls. “I kept going back and forth, but they were hearing so many singers and deejays that another one never mean much.” Finally, he got a chance from Redman, who matched his new find to “Lady In Red” and released the happy match in 1986, on his Redman International label. The tune went straight to number 18 on local charts. “Then all those people who told me to come back started asking me to sing this and that,” Sanchez recalls, laughing. Among the top studio men wanting to use that glorious instrument to create their own hits were Winston Riley of the Techniques label and Xterminator’s Phillip “Fatis” Burrell. A slew of number one’s quickly took over Jamaican radio and dance halls, then spread throughout Planet Jamaica, including “Sad Song” for Techniques, and “Loneliness,” which was the biggest song both locally and overseas during the ’87 to ’88 season, earning Sanchez multiple awards. In ’87, he took Singer of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Song, and even Best Dressed, an award he won four years straight, thanks to the designing skills of his wife, Monica Williams Jackson.

Sanchez hasn’t stopped since, and his unique and necessary presence continues to sweeten the music, no matter what the current dancehall fashion. His soaring, Afro-erotic sound is both powerful and versatile, a vehicle for devotion to God and girls alike. Hits like ’88’s “Sweetest Girl” and “Impossible,” ’91-92’s “Bring Back the Love” and “I Can’t Wait,” ’94’s “Missing You,” and ’95’s “Praise Him,” “Never Dis The Man,” and “Never Keeping Secrets” represent a fraction of the numerous boomshots that keep this rare talent at the forefront of the international reggae scene. So far, he has turned out a staggering 15-plus albums for King Jammy, his son John John, Bobby Digital, and many more …

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