Entertainment

Fire still burns within Prince Alla

Thursday, July 18, 2019

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Though he has been recording for over 45 years, Prince Alla is not a household name. Yet, the roots singer has diehard fans across the globe, thanks to songs like Stoned and Bucket Bottom .

Prince Alla is considered a legend in his hometown of Greenwich Farm, Kingston. One of his long-time admirers is Alphonso Henclewood, who produced Burning Fire, the 69-year-old artiste's latest album.

It contains 10 original songs, recorded between the mid-1990s and 2010.

“It was released before, but I took it back (from the distributor) because they weren't doing anything with it. It's a good album, and I think Prince Alla did a tremendous job; his voice sounds great!” Henclewood said.

Burning Fire includes songs such as Oh What A Day, Freedom and In My Dreams, all written by Prince Alla. He is backed by musicians who he has worked with since the dawn of his career including guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, drummer Leroy “Horsemouth” Wallace, and percussionist Harry T.

Henclewood lives in New Mexico where he operates Montego Records which has released songs and albums by several Greenwich Farm artistes. He grew up in that community during its musical heyday of the late 1960s and 1970s.

His contemporaries included Smith, as well as singers Phillip Frasier and Earl Zero. He remembers Prince Alla as the 'big brother' they aspired to be like.

“Him come in like a angel, everybody look up to Prince Alla. A quiet man with a gift for music,” said Henclewood.

Prince Alla, who was born Keith Blake in St Elizabeth, performs mainly in Europe and as far as Australia where his songs, led by Stoned and Bucket Bottom, are underground classics. Burning Fire is his 10th studio album.

Stoned and Bucket Bottom were produced by Bertram Brown for Freedom Sounds. That label promoted artistes from Maxfield Avenue/Greenwich Farm during the 1970s and 1980s, but although they were well-received in dances and Europe, they never found a mainstream Jamaican audience.

Henclewood is also known as King Shark, a singer who has two solo albums, the most recent being Walk In The Light which was released in January.

— Howard Campbell


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