April 17, 2014
Mystic Bowie yearns for Jamaican attention
Reggae singer Mystic Bowie has spent most of his long and fruitful career touring and performing with some of the biggest names in contemporary music.
He recently took a break to return to Jamaica to promote his latest single, More to Life.
Bowie, whose real name is Fitzroy Alexander Campbell, has for the past 16 years fronted the American new-wave band Tom Tom Club. The Tom Tom Club is led by the husband-and-wife duo of Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth. Both were members of the 1970s Talking Heads band.
"I began my career as a child performer in the hotel industry and I would also travel abroad. I hooked up with Island Records and met Chris Blackwell who was managing the Tom Tom Club at the time. We kept in touch and, when they needed someone to front the band, they reached out to me," Bowie explained.
Originally from Accompong in St Elizabeth, Bowie has to date released three solo albums: Funky Reggae (1992), Rebirth (2002), and Nevah Kiss and Tell (2009). His most recent effort was the EP Sweet Jamaica.
Bowie, however, bemoans the fact that he receives very little airplay for his work locally.
"I get more airplay overseas by the white pop stations than the radio stations here in Jamaica," he says.
In the 1990s, he started his Funky Ska Music label, which is based in Connecticut.
"My label is located about five buildings from the head office of Diageo in Connecticut. As a Jamaican artiste living in the US, I was never known and I am still not known by many in Jamaica. When Red Stripe wanted someone who was known among the white audiences, they reached out to me to promote their Red Stripe brand in the US At the time, they were launching the Red Stripe Light product," said Bowie.
Apart from his stint as the face of Red Stripe Light in the US, he has also done radio jingles promoting Kohl's stores and Victoria's Secret. He has also done generic jingles which have been licensed to other companies.
Bowie is a member of the Overseas Maroon Council. Even though he resides overseas, Bowie has never turned his back on his origins. He has contributed significantly to his community of Accompong.
"Right now, I am in the middle of finishing up a library in Accompong Town. I have also given scholarships to several children from the area to attend high school. I started the Mystic Bowie Cultural Centre in 1991 where we purchase school supplies each year to send back to Jamaica. A number of schools have benefitted from this move, including Lacovia High, Kendal Primary in Hanover, and the Peggy Barry Primary School in Grange Hill, Westmoreland", Bowie pointed out.
In early spring, he will kick off his More to Life tour which will make its trek along the US east coast. It will visit states including New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and then head to the West Coast.
Bowie will also be singing lead on an album of reggae interpretations of the Talking Heads hits. Some of the tracks will include Psycho Killer, Heaven, Take me to the River and Bringing down the House.
The album is being produced by Johnny Montganese of the Carriage House Studios in Stanford, Connecticut.