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About Levi Roots

b. Keith Valentine Graham, 1958, Clarendon, Jamaica, West Indies. Levi is an affable man who has softened the industrys hardest critics with his charismatic personality. By the age of 12 Levi relocated in the UK with his family. He soon became involved in the local music scene, initially with the legendary Sir Coxsone Outernational Sound System. He primarily performed as a DJ on the sound before becoming one of Englands leading exponents of the Roots and Culture movement. His recording debut, Poor Man Story, was produced by Lloyd Coxsone and adroitly mixed by Dennis Bovell. The song was an instant success and became regarded as an anthem, being highly sought after in the 90s. The song was later covered by a dance duo who enjoyed crossover chart success. In the early 80s Levi followed his solo success by forming the band Matic 16. The group released the favoured Jahoviah, another prized rarity, especially the initial pressings, which surfaced on green vinyl through Jimmy Lindsays Music Hive label. The song was regularly featured on Jah Shakas Sound System, acknowledging the roots appeal. Levi embarked on a series of live performances with two principal members of the Matics, Patrick and Henry Tenyue. The singer also formed his own Conqueror label, releasing the groups second single - the sadly neglected Say You Want Me. In addition to their hectic live schedule, the group provided support for a number of Jamaican stars, including Sugar Minott, Junior Reid, Half Pint and Yammie Bolo, who also released hits through the Matics label. Conqueror was also responsible for launching the career of Jack Radics, whose release of Walk On By enabled the singer to relinquish his job as a cab driver. By 1985 the Matics parted company, which led Levi to pursue a solo career. Recording in Jamaica, Levi worked with Philip Fatis Burrell alongside Sly And Robbie, which resulted in the hits, It A Fi Burn, Sweet Africa and Shashamane City. Levi concentrated on writing and producing for his Conqueror label. Having earned respect for the labels earlier releases, his production skills were in demand and he promoted the careers of a number of new artists. The singer Mikey General recorded his debut, Baby Mother, with Levi building a solid foundation before his eventual return to Jamaica, where he joined the Exterminator Crew. In 1996, Levi and the Tenyue brothers were reunited and began working on Free Your Mind. The album featured a host of top musicians, including Mafia And Fluxy, the Ruff Cut Band, Gussie P, Jah Shaka and Speedy. In 1998, the release was critically acclaimed and has enjoyed a favourable response in the marketplace. Levis dexterity resulted in him writing a novel, Dreadlock Holiday, drawn from his own experiences at Her Majestys pleasure on the Isle Of Sheppey. The book echoed Free Your Mind, which tied in nicely with the album, although, regrettably, the releases were not simultaneous.

Clarendon, Jamaica