Personnel includes: Beres Hammond (vocals); Winston "Bopee" Bowen (vocals, guitar); Wyclef Jean (vocals, bass); Fernando Rosario, Robert Angus, Earl "Chinna" Smith (guitar); Howard Messam (saxophone); Dean Fraser, Nambo Robinson, Dave Madden (horns); Donald "Danny Bassie" Dennis (keyboards, bass, drums); Robbie Lyn (keyboards, bass); Lloyd "Obeah" Denton, Christopher Birch, Dwight Dawes, Paul Crosdale (keyboards); Flabba Holt (bass, percussion); Robbie Shakespeare, Michael Fletcher (bass); Style Scott, George Fire House, Sly Dunbar (drums); Nicola Tucker, Dorett Wisdom (background vocals); Roots Radics Band.
Producers: Beres Hammond, Philip "Fattis" Burrell, Colin "Bulby" York, Karl Toppin.
Engineers include: Anthony Selassie, Dwight Dias, Robert "Smurf" Murphy.
MUSIC IS LIFE was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album.
Jamaica's elder statesman of lovers ballads procures another patented, soulful recipe on Music Is Life. One of only a few living reggae legends, the unassuming Hammond has the power to transform any listening environment into a contemplative Caribbean getaway. Hammond's effortless delivery and near flawless vocal quality call to mind an atmosphere of swaying palm trees, cool blue water, and overall positive vibrations. His enduring Jamaican hit of 2000, "They Gonna Talk," is as calmly groovy as it is heartfelt. The more up-tempo "Dance for Me" pairs Beres with one of his devoted aficionados, Wyclef Jean, in a near facsimile of Wyclef's crossover duet with Santana, "Maria, Maria." While Hammond is a clear virtuoso of rocksteady and lovers reggae, he also demonstrates versatility on this offering. The more bittersweet ballads, "Mary, Mary" and "Angel Eyes," are haunting as well as eloquent. But, the piŠce de r‚sistance may be "Gonna Shine Again," a low-tempo track teeming with heart-wrenching emotion. Hammond takes traditional roots flavors and transposes them just enough to satisfy purists and new listeners alike. The resulting formula is soothing, accessible, and thought-provoking reggae music. ~ M.F. DiBella