Superstar Maxi Priest is one of those artists whose own unique vision has led him to tremendous international success, being the first reggae artist to have a No. 1 hit worldwide, including the U.S. Billboard charts.
Max Alfred "Maxi" Elliott (born 10 June 1961), known as Maxi Priest, was born in Lewisham, London, the second to last of nine brothers and sisters. His parents moved to England from Jamaica to provide more opportunity for their family and he grew up listening to gospel, reggae, R&B, and pop music.
He first learned to sing in church, encouraged by his mother who was a Pentecostal missionary. As a teenager, he lifted speaker boxes for the Jah Shaka and Negus Negast sound-systems. He was also a founder member of Saxon Studio International. It was with Saxon that Maxi began performing at neighbourhood youth clubs and house parties, and first won an appreciative audience.
A fusion of reggae with R&B, and pop, he helped to define the genre. His cousin, Jacob Miller, another reggae icon, was the frontman in the popular reggae group, best known for its cult hit "Bad Boys", Inner Circle.
His new album, Easy To Love is as fine a representation of lovers' rock as you could possibly wish for. The sophistication he brings to these tracks is the mark of true quality; his effortless blend of reggae, R&B and dancehall has universal appeal. Lead single "Easy To Love," was a No. 1 smash hit on the reggae charts last summer -evidence that Maxi Priest has a gift for staying fresh. The song features the legendary Jamaican drum and bass duo Sly & Robbie, who've played on some of Maxi's biggest hits, including "Wild World," "Some Guys Have All The Luck," "Close To You," and "Housecall" (featuring Shabba Ranks), as well as the new album track "Every Little Thing."
"Without A Woman" features Beres Hammond, and echoes the themes and intensity of James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World." Maxi and Beres' musical partnership began years ago with the crossover hit "How Can We Ease The Pain." Time has deepened the understanding between them and there's so much soul in this track it hurts. "This song is an appreciation for all women and a gift from the artists," says Maxi. "Sometimes we forget to simply say 'thank you' - as without you, there is no us."
"First and foremost, I'm from a church background," he explains. "My mother, a missionary, is where I would hear the beautiful sound of gospel, mixed in with reggae music that my older brothers played around the house. My sisters were into the Jackson Five, The Beatles, Al Green, etc. From an early age my family always encouraged me... I listened to all kinds of vocalists... Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Sam Cooke, Dennis Brown... without realizing it, I was developing my craft. I was taught never to limit myself - that's why you'll always find different styles of music on my albums, and a range of producers to bring out different aspects of my creativity."