(Jamaica Gleaner) Six years ago, Guyanese reggae singer Mark Batson had given up on his music career. The 34-year-old, who has been performing since the age of five, said he grew frustrated at what he describes as a difficult industry, and lost his enthusiasm to sing.
This made his debut performance in Jamaica on Sunday night even more special. The crooner was among several who impressed a massive crowd at the Dennis Brown’s Tribute Concert, held at the Kingston waterfront.
He said the moment was 23 years in the making.
“I was so nervous backstage. I remember having my cell phone with the song I was going to perform, trying to listen to it because I didn’t rehearse with the band and wanted to be on key,” Batson told The Gleaner.
“Then something said to me, just go out there and have fun; don’t try to be Dennis Brown, be Mark; and that’s what I did.”
Batson belted Brown’s Here I Come to the delight of the crowd and an a cappella performance of his own single, Second Chance, which garnered screams and cheers from the crowd. The single was released in 2017 and is part of his debut album, Music Without Borders, which he is currently promoting.
“It’s great to know that the people in Jamaica love the song. The feedback has been phenomenal in Guyana, too, and now in Belgium, where it’s playing every two hours on the radio stations for the past month,” he said.
He leaves Jamaica in a few days, but hopes to do a collaboration with Christopher Martin in the near future. He cited the singer as one of his musical influences.
“My team already sent him a demo, which he has seen, so hopefully we can make that happen,” Batson said. “When it comes to reggae, I also love Beres Hammond, Gregory Isaacs, Romain Virgo, Buju Banton, Bob Marley, even Guyana’s own Natural Black – it’s wide-ranging.”
Batson, also a lead singer of the Heat Wave band, transitioned from soca a few years ago as he said he feels a deeper connection to reggae music. He is also a former athlete, having represented Guyana at the CARIFTA Games at the junior level. He said he has no regrets about pursuing music over athletics, and spends his time mentoring up-and-coming artistes in his homeland.