Junior Kelly performing at the stageshow and fireworks show at the Kingston waterfront. - Ian Allen
JUNIOR KELLY WAS born Keith Morgan in Kingston Jamaica, but relocated to Spanish Town where he attended the St Catherine and Jonothan Grant high schools.
Throughout his childhood, Junior Kelly had no choice about his musical inclinations, as he was constantly surrounded by music. Both his grandfather and father played the banjo, his mother sang in Church, and his oldest brother Jim Kelly was a popular deejay with the Kilamanjaro sound system at the time.
Jim juggled a part-time catering business along with his music. He was Junior Kelly's ultimate role model, as being the older brother, he looked up to him for guidance in his musical career. Tragedy struck, however, when Jim was murdered, and this threw Junior Kelly's entire family into deep depression.
The sudden absence of the older brother ultimately forced Junior Kelly to grow up rapidly.
After Jim's death, to help support his family, Junior followed sound systems all over the island just for the opportunity to demonstrate his vocal and lyrical talents. He also began auditioning for several producers in Kingston for the chance to record, but because of his strict Rastafarian lyrics, he got a hard time from some of them. The producers at the time were looking for a certain type of lyrics, and he was not willing to deliver them.
He recorded his first single Over Her Body in 1985 for Neco Records, but it was not until 1995, during a stint in the United States, that Kelly's career gained momentum. As his name spread, he started to appear at major Jamaican stage shows, which included Reggae Sunsplash and Sting, plus other shows in northeastern American cities. While in the States, he also recorded two songs, Hungry Days and Good Tidings for Willie Carson's front page label.
He later returned to Jamaica to concentrate on his song writing skills, and met Michael Stanford of M Rush Records for whom he recorded several singles, including the popular Black Woman and If Love So Nice. The single If Love So Nice took a detour through Europe along its route to the top of the Jamaican charts, a position which it securely held for 15 weeks. This single was an impressive reggae song, and it impacted upon Jamaica with a force that still rumbles today. It launched the Junior Kelly name firmly in the hearts of the musical public. Although he had been recording quality music years before that track, he finally got a good hold of the listening public's ear.