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The legendary WAILING SOULS were there from reggae's beginnings in the late '60s and early '70s. They grew up and sang in the same Trenchtown yards in Kingston, Jamaica as Bob Marley, Joe Higgs, and other reggae icons. The veteran multi-Grammy-nominated roots reggae group's longevity has come due to their adaptability to trends in the music without the compromise of their vision. The group's music has that vision and sound maintaining their vital part in reggae music in this day and age, and this year of 2007 sees all four members reuniting after 20 years.
In the early days of the singing careers of the Wailing Souls, the first name that the group came up with in the late '60s was the Renegades. This group consisted of Winston "Pipe" Matthews on lead vocals, Lloyd "Bread" McDonald, and George "Buddy" Haye. This line-up recorded backing vocals for an Ernest Ranglin album before breaking up in 1968. "Pipe" and "Bread" teamed up with two other singers after that, Oswald Downes and Norman Davis, and recorded the single "Gold Digger" for producer Lloyd "Matador" Daley. From there they went on to work with Coxsone Dodd's famous Studio One label recording label, considered the "Motown" of Jamaica. They recorded a number of singles there, and were also billed as the Classics, in addition to their Wailing Souls name.
The Souls recorded for Bob Marley's Tuff Gong label, as Pipe and The Pipes in the early '70s. There at Tuff Gong they had hits with "Harbor Shark" and "Back Biter." Their vocal power and song-writing ability have kept the group in the spotlight, and in 1974 the group changed again when Downes and David left and "Buddy" Haye rejoined. The "godfather of reggae," Joe Higgs, also worked with the group in the mid-'70s, but left to work with Jimmy Cliff as his musical director on tour. The group entered another era of their careers as they began to work with famed producer "Jo Jo" Hookim and his Channel One label. With Hookim, they recorded more classics like "Things and Times," "Joy With Your Heart," and "Very Well." Shortly afterwards, in 1976, Rudolph "Garth" Dennis - one of founding members of Black Uhuru - joined the group. The Souls then started their own label in 1977 called Massive, and hit with their first singles "Bredda Gravilicious" and "Feel The Spirit".
In the early '80s the quartet worked with a number of hot producers including Sly & Robbie, recording Old Broom on their Taxi label, Fire House Rock for Junjo Lawes' Volcano label, and for producer/singer Linval Thompson. Their touring and recording continued throughout the '80s, and in 1988-89 they recorded an album for Lloyd "King Jammys" James called Stormy Weather, showing that this group could grow and adapt to the change in reggae music towards the dancehall sound. After this album for Jammys the group broke up again, and Pipe and Bread have continued the Wailing Souls on their own throughout the '90s, recording (including two Grammy-nominated albums) and touring worldwide. "Garth" Dennis rejoined Black Uhuru to work with them in the early/mid-'90s and "Buddy" Haye had taken a leave from singing.
The group has many movie soundtrack appearances such as Disney's Cool Runnings and has performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on NBC and The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn on CBS. The group has earned three Grammy nominations for their albums over the years (All Over The World 1991, Psychedelic Souls 1998, and Equality 2001).
The Wailing Souls have been part of many other advertising campaigns worldwide including Jamaica's own Red Stripe Beer and they recorded a cover version of John Holt's classic "The Tide Is High" for Japanese beer giant Saporro in 2004. The Wailing Souls have toured the world many times. including the annual Japansplash concerts where over 80,000 reggae fans attend, two North American tours with reggae legends Beres Hammond and Marcia Griffiths, and on Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest. The group released the CD Souvenir From Jamaica in 2003, and in 2004 signed a record deal with EMI/Toshiba in Japan for the release of their self-titled 2005 CD release.
With the long-awaited reunion of Pipe, Bread, Garth, and Buddy this year, they have already created a buzz in the music industry, landing slots on some of the biggest reggae festivals in the world including: Reggae On The River, the Hollywood Bowl's annual Reggae Night, and many more to come, to complete a busy schedule for these roots reggae veterans ready to bring their powerful music and message to the world.