Reggae Powerhouse Band Bio
Leroy Scarlet was born and raised in the parish of St Andrew in Jamaica. Growing up Leroy was exposed to music by the local sound systems and singers who lived in the area. Wherever there was music Leroy could be found, both in school and in the community. At the age of twelve, Leroy became a box lifter for a sound system called Killaphonic and eventually was given a chance to sing. The first time he tried he didn’t even have a microphone, they had to reverse the sound back through a speaker. DJ Big Joe had a sound system called Rebel Tone in the community and Leroy began to chant on it regularly. Whenever Leroy heard that a big sound system was coming to town, he would be at the spot long before they arrived because he didn’t want to miss anything and by this time he was performing at every opportunity he could get.
Leroy’s cousin, Chris Stanley, had decided to build a studio on the large piece of property he lived on. While Chris was traveling and collecting the equipment he needed for the studio, Leroy was singing 7 days a week at dances. At the return of his cousin, they worked day and night until Music Mountain Studio was finished. Jimi Cliff attended the grand opening of the studio and as most of the recording studios in Jamaica at that time were located in Kingston, artists began pouring into Music Mountain Studio because of the proximity to where they lived. Some of the earliest recordings at the studio were Boris Gardner’s “I Want To Wake Up With You”, Sophia George’s “Too Girlie Girlie” and Black Uhuru’s “Solidarity” album. Although Leroy wasn’t being paid he was always in the background helping out and running errands. He met big artists like Toots and The Maytals, Marcia Griffiths, Glen Ricks and many more. Around this time Sly and Robbie started to use the studio and Leroy closely studied the recording process. One day he commented to Sly Dunbar that he really liked the track they were working on so Sly told him to take a shot at it. With David Roy as the engineer, Leroy recorded his first single “Murder”. The single was released just before Christmas 1987. Leroy switched to producing soon after, his big break coming with his production of Frankie Paul’s ‘One Little Romance’ and Gregory Isaacs ‘Lonely Teardrops’ in 1993, on Reality Records label.
Leroy later produced and released several albums including “Reggae Train Series One & Two”, Frankie Paul “It’s My Time”, Easy B “Prophecy”, Anthony B “Judgement Time” and “Dimensions in Music” containing tracks by Glen Washington, Luciano Messenjah, Frankie Paul, General Pecos, Easy B, Anthony B, Sizzla, and Beres Hammond, plus a fourteen track album called “Four the Hardway” featuring Capleton, Sizzla, Luciano, and Anthony B.
In the late ’90s, reggae music sales plummeted. Singles that had up until then sold from 70,000 to 80,000 copies for a hit single suddenly were selling on an average 1,000 copies. The artists were making money from shows but the producer was no longer making as much money and Leroy realized the tables had turned. Although he loved making music, he wondered how he was going to continue to make a living.
With a heavy heart, Leroy switched from making music to Real Estate, but unfortunately, after some time, the dust from construction had given him severe asthma.
Back once again with the music, Leroy was talking with his longtime friend Duckie Simpson from Black Uhuru about the state of the reggae industry and about how he had a lot of music that had never been released. Duckie suggested that he form a band and use the band in combination with some of his catalog of unreleased music to get the music out there. Leroy liked this idea so he set about putting together a band. He had always liked the idea of being part of something meaningful and he believed that a band could contribute a lot with the unity of ideas, energy, and methods. Meanwhile, a producer of the movie “One Love” flew into Jamaica from the UK to meet with the late Gregory Isaacs’ wife to get permission to create a movie of the life story of Gregory but permission wasn’t given so the idea was dropped. Leroy thought this was a travesty as he believed Gregory’s legacy should be recorded. He talked to Sly and Robbie about this and Sly said: “The story doesn’t have to just be the life of Gregory Isaacs, call it The Powerhouse of Reggae or something similar and make it the life of all the reggae powerhouses.” The idea seemed like a good one but it still has a long way to go, although when forming the band Leroy adopted the name Reggae Powerhouse Band.
The lead singers for the band are an eclectic mix of nationalities. Vocalist Cordel Dunnah is an Antiguan with a unique sound. Leroy met Cordel while in Antigua, watched him perform, and loved his voice. He decided Cordel was going to be one of the Reggae Powerhouse Band family. Trinidad and Tobago national Pernel Winchester is another of Reggae Powerhouse Band’s lead singers. This talented Tobagonian has a powerful melodic voice and commanding stage presence. Vocalist number three is Guyanese Kobla Mentor who brings solid experience to the band. Reggae Powerhouse selects talent from various islands to get a unique sound and fresh ideas. Several Reggae Powerhouse Band singles have been released and distributed through Tuff Gong International, who invited the band to perform at the Earthstrong of the great Robert Nester Marley. The band also performed in 2019 at two Jamaica Live Concerts.
Reggae Powerhouse Band’s debut album “Reggae Powerhouse Band and Friends Series One” was released on March 6th, 2020.