Respect | Winston McAnuff

Irie™ Magazine | Respect - Winston McAnuff

Photography by: Rami Mekdachi; Bernard Benant

Winston McAnuff

Winston McAnuff was born in the center of Jamaica, on the hills of the parish of Manchester in 1957,
in a city called Christiana. His father was a preacher, sometime playing the accordion and church was the first place where Winston started singing from his youngest age. With his father’s death in 1971, the young already Rasta Winston left his born countryside for Kinston, living with his sister. There he met Hugh Mundell, Earl Sixteen and Wayne Wade, whom he accompanied in their first recording sessions. From his first steps into music business, he started to build links with producers such as Joe Gibbs, Derrick Harriott and Yabby You. In 1975, Winston recorded a few songs for singer and producer Derrick Harriott which appeared to be his first solo album ‘Pick Hits to Click’, released in 1977. From that period he inherited the nickname of ‘Electric Dread’, given by a journalist trying to capture pictures of Winston on stage.

The following year, ‘What a Man Deal With’ came out on Top Ranking Records of the Inner Circle crew (Fatman Riddim Section). The same year he wrote the ‘Malcolm X’ song on the world famous Dennis Brown album “Visions of Dennis Brown”. His collaboration with Inner Circle gave another album 8 years later: “Electric Dread”, produced by Skeng Don. At the same period he started The Black Kush, joining forces with his brother Tony “Makaruffin” McAnuff, Anthony Wilson and bassist Peter Kush. They recorded 2 singles for Channel One and features on the “Deep Root Series” documentary produced by BBC. With the Black Kush, he toured for the first time in France in 1986.

In 2000, he met two French music journalists, Nicolas Maslowski and Romain Germa, who eventually informed him that his “What a Man Deal With” album was distributed and sold in France without his agreement nor his knowledge (Under the name “One Love” by Crocodisc Label)! Two Years later, the same two journalists started their own label “Makasound” and released a compilation of Winston’s early recordings ‘Diary of the Silent Years’ in 2002. The same year they invited Electric Dread and Derrick Harriott to perform on stage at the New Morning. Camille Bazbaz, a well known french singer and organist, fascinated by Winston charismatic performance, invited him the day after to a studio recording session. From then started the collaboration between the two artists that has led to the album ‘A Drop’ in 2005.

Co-produced by Camille Bazbaz and Yarol Poupaud, the critically acclaimed album got national airplay on French radio and brought Winston on two national tours including prestigious festivals such as ‘Les Transmusicales de Rennes’, ‘Les Vieilles Charrues’ or ‘Paris Plage’.

Short after came ‘Paris Rockin’ LP, with Fixi and the French ‘rap-musette’ band JAVA in 2006. Led by Fixi, Java’s compositor and accordionist, the album brings together, not only the musicians of the band but also prestigious guests like Cyril Atef (drums), Mathieu Chedid (Guitar) and some more… Released in October 2006, two national tours followed, all sold-out, in such venus and festivals as Elysée-Montmartre, Francofolies, Festival du bout du monde, Sakifo (Reunion Island) and Cabaret Sauvage. Everywhere the critics were eulogistic.

The following project saw Winston coming back to his early musical roots, recording ‘Nostradamus’ in 2008 in Jamaica, working with Clive Hunt (Pierpoljak, Khaled, Bernard Lavilliers) and touring with his Jamaican band The Black Kush, inviting also the famous guitarist Earl Chinna Smith.

Seven years after ‘A Drop’, Winston released the successful ‘A Bang’ with his friend Camille Bazbaz and the Bazbaz Orchestra, touring again all over France.

Since then, Winston started a new collaboration album with Fixi. Aided by a clutch of high-profile friends including the producer Olivier Lude (Vanessa Paradis, M). Inviting special guests such as legendary ex-Fela drummer Tony Allen, iconoclastic French rocker superstar M or even double bassist Tom Fire and Olivier Araste from the maloya outfit Lindigo.

‘A New Day’ came out in 2013 and quickly became one of the major release of the year. With more than 160 shows worldwide, this last project has been a huge success on stage, with shows in all major cities and festivals in France, 4 majors venues in Paris (Café de la Danse, La Cigale, Le Trianon, le theatre de l’Athenée), but also festivals and stages all around the world (UK, Germany, Sueden, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Congo, Haiti, Portugal, Czech, Belgium, Hungary, Brasil…etc).

Winston McAnuff and Fixi has also been nominated at the French Music Academy Awards Les Victoires de la Musique for the “Best World Music Album of the Year”.

Multiplying guest appearances on projects for french famous artists such as Danakil, Zenzile, Laurent Garnier, Tom Fire, S Mos and more… Winston has never been so prolific the past few years. He has just recorded 2 tracks in Kingston with the new Inna de Yard crew, for a new album which will be released in march 2017, alongside tour in France and Europe. Next year in autumn will also see the third album of his awaited collaboration with Fixi, defining once again new borders for reggae music worldwide.