“Music was always something that was around me in a very serious way. It is a passion of mine, I love it, and get excited about it,” he tells JIS NEWS.
He says it was his father, Joscelyn McKenzie, who inculcated his love for music, referring to him as a great motivator and idol.
The elder McKenzie played several musical instruments, and was even a part time dance promoter.
“My father was very much into music. I came knowing him with his electric guitar; he would play and he would sing,” he recounts.
Mr. McKenzie shares that in his formative years, he was exposed to the Rastafarian culture, and through his father, he was able to interact with players in the reggae industry, which allowed him to learn about and appreciate the intricacies of the genre.
“I got that exposure to the technical, aesthetic side where these people would analyse the music,” he says.
“I got a deep insight into the industry because of my association with very established musicians and producers,” he adds.
Mr. McKenzie says that while he was involved in school musicals while attending St. Georges College, he knew that the performance aspect of music was not where he wanted to be.
The early exposure and experience in the music industry would serve him well in later years when he became the founding general manager of the all-reggae radio station Irie FM.
Mr. McKenzie spearheaded the all-reggae concept, which propelled the rural-based radio station into national and international prominence becoming one of the most successful electronic media entities in Jamaica’s history.
He says he is proud of his contribution to the development of Irie FM. He describes the station as one of the trailblazers for reggae music, and even recounts how “flabbergasted everyone was” at the initial idea of doing an all-reggae concept for radio.
“It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to have been given the opportunity to lead that kind of initiative,” Mr. McKenzie says, noting that Irie FM has become one of the most important features of the island’s cultural landscape.
During his five years at the popular radio station, Mr. McKenzie hosted his own programme called ‘Musically Speaking’.
He says the programme gave him access to personalities and cultural icons such as the Hon. Louise Bennett Coverley “Miss Lou”; Bunny Wailer and Lee Scratch Perry.
He notes that on his departure from Irie FM, the natural thing was for him to continue in music, and he decided to join the Shocking Vibes music label.
For almost 20 years, beginning in the 1980s, Shocking Vibes was rated among the top production companies for dancehall music.
Mr. McKenzie says the label involved “a group of young, talented entrepreneurs and artistes, who got together and created one of the most outstanding entertainment brands in Jamaica.”
He counts among his proudest achievements, being a co-producer of ‘Beenie Man’s’ Grammy Award-winning album ‘Art of Life.’
On National Heroes Day, October 16, Mr. McKenzie will be conferred with the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for service to the creative industry, media and broadcasting.
He tells JIS NEWS that it is an honour to be recognised by his country for his work.
“If you have done a body of work and the powers that be look on and say ‘it is deserving of an award’ that is always a great feeling,” he shares.
“It is nice when you know that what you have been doing, and doing not for any honours or awards, is appreciated and acknowledged; it feels good,” he adds.
Mr. McKenzie is a Director at C2W Music Limited, which is a music publishing business that creates various genres of music for the international market, as well as dealing with the management of content, including distribution and production of music videos.
He is much sought after worldwide as a music consultant, and is a regular commentator on cultural issues both locally and internationally.
- Countries: Jamaica