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Freddie McGregor

Freddie McGregor is one of reggae's most durable and soulful singers, with an incredibly steady career that started all the way back in the '60s, when he was just seven years old. Since then, he's spanned nearly every stylistic shift in Jamaican music, from ska and rocksteady to Rastafarian roots reggae to lovers rock (his particular specialty) to dabblings in dancehall, ragga, and dub. Not just a singer, he wrote some of his own material, and grew into an accomplished producer as well. McGregor's heyday was the early '80s, when he released several high-quality albums and reached the peak of his popularity in Jamaica and England. However, he remained a strong presence on the reggae scene well into the new millennium.

McGregor's relationship with Polydor proved short-lived, however, and he formed his own label, Big Ship, in 1989. The first release was an all-covers LP called Jamaican Classics, which was so well-received that he quickly recorded a second volume (and, eventually, a third in 1996). 1991's Now also featured several covers, and 1993's Legit was an equal-time collaboration with Dennis Brown and Cocoa Tea. Also in 1993, he had a hit with his lovers rock cover of Justin Hinds' "Carry Go Bring Come." 1994's Push On provided much of the foundation for what many would call his finest outside production work, Luciano's 1995 After All album (which featured the major hit "Shake It Up Tonight"). Also in 1995, McGregor issued his own Forever My Love, one of his more sentimental offerings.

After slowing his pace in the late '90s, McGregor returned in 2000 with the acclaimed Signature, which restored his typical balance of roots reggae and lovers rock with touches of dancehall. He followed it two years later with a similarly well-received album, the Grammy-nominated Anything for You. In 2005 he issued Comin' in Tough featuring guest appearances from Anthony B, Marcia Griffiths, and Morgan Heritage along with the hit single "Lock It Down." Over the next few years, McGregor kept a regular and worldwide touring schedule, but his work in the studio would shift to mentoring his sons Stephen "Di Genius" and Chino, both of them producers and Chino a dancehall vocalist as well. Stephen would work on his father's 2013 release, Di Captain, an album that featured "Standing Strong," a redo of his early hit "Bobby Bobylon" with Gappy Ranks as guest, and "Move Up Jamaica," an anthem celebrating 50 years of Jamaican independence.

McGregor (born 27 June 1956, Clarendon, Jamaica) has been variously a singer, musician and producer. His music career began when he was seven years old.

In 1963 he joined with Ernest Wilson and Peter Austin to form The Clarendonians, and began to record for the Studio One label. He was only seven years old at the time and was known as 'Little Freddie'. He was also a member of the Generation Gap.

McGregor converted to Rastafari in 1975. He is a member of the Twelve Tribes organisation.

McGregor worked with producer Niney the Observer during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and in the same period was part of the resurgence of Studio One. His popularity soared in the early 1980s with the release of "Bobby Bobylon". Other popular hits of McGregor's include "Big Ship", "Push Comes to Shove", "Just Don't Want to Be Lonely" (a top ten hit in the UK), and "I Was Born a Winner"; as well as cover versions of many early reggae standards. He has also worked with producers Junjo Lawes, Linval Thompson, and Gussie Clarke. McGregor has also recorded as a drummer with artists such as Sugar Minott and Judy Mowatt.

McGregor has also toured extensively for many years. He secured a licensing agreement with RAS Records in US and released Come on Over in 1983.

McGregor's albums in the 2000s were Signature and Anything for You, which received a Grammy nomination.

He established the Big Ship label in 1983, and has produced many artists including Papa San, Lieutenant Stitchie, Tiger, Luciano and Mikey Spice.

In a 2011 interview, he expressed concern that many veteran artists, including himself, struggled for local radio play of their newer material, which he felt may be "lost" over time as a result.

His album Di Captain, released in August 2012, features Etana and Gappy Ranks.

In 2013 he received a Marcus Garvey Lifetime Achievement Award from the Institute of Caribbean Studies.

One of McGregor's three sons, Stephen "Di Genius" McGregor, is a dancehall record producer.


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