Baha Men Biography

The guiding force behind the Baha Men is multi-instrumentalist Isaiah Taylor. The original line-up comprised Nehemiah Hield (vocals), Fred Ferguson (guitar/keyboards), Colyn Mo Grant (drums), Herschel Small (guitar/keyboards), Jeffrey Chea (keyboards). Born and raised in the Bahamas, Taylor formed the band High Voltage in the early 80s to pursue his vision of updating the indigenous junkanoo music of his home island and bringing it to a wider international audience. Junkanoo, a joyous, percussive music traditionally played on goatskin drums and cowbells, originates from colonial times when slaves were permitted to gather together one day in the week and celebrate. Taylor became a local celebrity in the Bahamas with the release of several cassettes that fused the junkanoo sound with Latin rhythms and pop melodies to create an irresistible party music. His music came to the attention of US label Big Beat Records, who signed the band in the early 90s and changed their name to Baha Men.

After 1992’s debut album Junkanoo!, their releases have become increasingly westernised with funk, R&B, hip-hop and dancehall influences gradually taking over the traditional junkanoo rhythms. Anthony ‘Monks’ Flowers joined as an additional percussionist by the time of Kalik. The band’s second major label contract, which saw them releasing two albums through Mercury Records, ended with the sale of the PolyGram Records group of labels to Seagram in 1998. Shortly afterwards, original lead singer Nehemiah Hield left to pursue a solo career. Taylor recruited three new singers, Nehemiah’s nephew Omerit Hield, guitarist Pat Carey’s son Rick, and Marvin Prospect, and signed a new contract with the newly formed independent label S-Curve. The Baha Men’s Who Let The Dogs Out finally broke them in the US (they are already huge stars in the Caribbean and Japan), climbing gradually up the charts into the Top 10 on the back of the catchy title track. This feel-good summer hit, featuring guttural barking and Prosper’s speed rapping, had originally been written for the 1998 Bahamas carnival by soca performer Anselm Douglas.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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