The Early Years
James Chambers, better known by his stage name Jimmy Cliff, was born in Somerton, Jamaica in 1948. He began his musical career at a young age, singing in church and drawing a huge crowd. Jimmy recorded his first single at the age of 14. In 1962, he had his first major hit with the song “Hurricane Hattie.”
Ska and Rocksteady
Jimmy’s early music was a mix of ska, rocksteady, and soul. He was one of the first Jamaican musicians to incorporate elements of soul and rhythm and blues into his music, and his work helped to popularize reggae music around the world.
In 1965, Jimmy moved to London, where he began to experiment with different musical styles. He released a number of successful albums during this time, including Hard Road to Travel (1967) and Wonderful World, Beautiful People (1970)
Soul and Reggae
The Harder They Come
In 1972, Jimmy Cliff starred in the film The Harder They Come, which is considered to be one of the most influential reggae films ever made. The film helped to introduce reggae music to a wider audience and made Jimmy a household name.
The Actor and the Soundtrack
One of Jimmy’s most famous songs “Many Rivers to Cross,” was featured in the soundtrack to The Harder They Come. The song is a powerful and moving ballad about overcoming adversity and finding hope in the face of hardship. In 1972, Jimmy Cliff starred in the film The Harder They Come, which is considered to be one of the most influential reggae films ever made. The film helped to introduce reggae music to a wider audience and made Jimmy a household name.
There's always a message - Many Rivers to Cross
Jimmy continued to release successful albums throughout the 70s and 80s. He toured extensively. In 1993, Cliff won a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album for his album Rebirth. The album was a return to form and featured a number of hit singles, including “I Can See Clearly Now” and “One More.”
I Can See Clearly Now
Jimmy has continued to release music and tour throughout the 2000s to present day. He remains one of the most popular and respected reggae artists in the world. In 2003, he was inducted into the International Reggae and World Music Hall of Fame. He has also received a number of other awards and accolades throughout his career, including a Golden Globe Award, a BET Award, and a MOBO Award.
Jimmy Cliff - Refugees
Jimmy Cliff’s latest album ‘Refugees’ in 2022 is his first new album in 10 years. The new record features artists Dwight Richards, Cliff’s daughter Lilty Cliff, and Wyclef Jean in the title single, “Refugees,” which includes both a Rap Version and Dance Version. Jimmy wants to help those who are forced to flee and has partnered with the UNHCR to encourage people who’d like to donate – to do so here
“As a humanitarian, I wrote the song due to emotional feelings towards freedom taken away from human beings. None of us should be forced by violence, economics, war, or persecution to leave our country against our will – Jimmy Cliff”
To learn more about the Grandfather of Reggae, head to his website https://www.jimmycliff.com/