By Sade Gardner, Dancehall Mag,
New music from roots-reggae crooner Garnett Silk could be on the way, according to his widow Novlyn ‘Lovey’ Banton.
Mother to four of his seven children, Banton, made the revelation during a recent Instagram live with producer and reggae enthusiast DJ Khaled.
“I was talking to Donovan Germain…he said he has some songs that are unreleased, but I haven’t gone to him to listen to it…” she said.
Germain, principal at Penthouse Records, was one of the early producers to work with Silk during his two-year career. Among their creations were Lion Heart (1992), Fussing and Fighting (1994), Man is Just A Man featuring Tony Rebel (1994), and Complaint, also released that year with a remix featuring Buju Banton.
In 2014, Germain commemorated Penthouse’s 25th anniversary with the release of a compilation that included two previously unreleased tracks from Silk: My Favorite Song and a remix of his classic Everything I Got.
This year marks 26 years since Silk’s ‘message music’ mission was intercepted when he died in a fire in his Mandeville home town. In December 1994, Silk left a pregnant Banton in Kingston to visit his mother, Etiga Gray, in Hatfield Ward Park, where he was building her a house. A week into his visit, they both perished in a fire at Gray’s home.
Silk was just 28-years-old.
Though his career was short-lived, Garnett’s legacy remains immortal, which Khaled attested to.
“Your husband Garnett Silk, he was such a person in my life that his music helped me through so much and still helping me,” Khaled said. “What they used to call him? Archangel?”
Khaled added that he enjoys watching performance clips of Silk online, and is easily enraptured by Silk’s character, from his linen clothing pieces to his album covers and velvety voice.
“He lives forever, and his music lives forever, and his songs were so good, his music was so good…” Khaled said.
The two met last March when Khaled came to Jamaica for Buju Banton’s Long Walk to Freedom concert. While at a dinner with Bounty Killer in Kingston, Khaled recalled meeting Silk’s children, who thanked him for promoting their father’s music in his online posts.
“It touched my soul,” said Khaled. “We post to show love but Garnett Silk, man, his catalogue is so big you know… His voice was unbelievable, his lyrical content was like God speaking to you.”
Banton agreed and added that her late fiancé epitomized the love he sang about, and should also be recognized for his overlooked records.
“There’s so many tracks out there right now that when you play them people are like, ‘who is that?’ but it’s him but they didn’t get the justice that they deserved,” Banton said. “He has a lot of songs, he wasn’t here for long…it was almost like he knew that he was on a mission and that mission would have been cut short so he was just doing things…recording and putting music out in the space… I think he had a premonition like he knew I’m not gonna be here for long, so let me just do this.”
Silk, whose given name was Garnett Smith, formed part of the Pan-African, roots-revival wave which challenged the gritty, gun culture lyrics of Dancehall at the turn of the 1990s. He formed close friendships with performers Tony Rebel and Yasus Afari, and the latter influenced his Rastafarian faith.
His musical influences (including Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Freddie McGregor, and Stevie Wonder), paired with his faith, played a crucial role in shaping his catalog of black consciousness and spirituality. His repertoire includes classics like Bless Me, Kingly Character, It’s Growing, Nothing Can Divide Us, Zion in a Vision, and Mama Africa.
His peers Everton Blender, Luciano, and Uton Green, also contributed to this ‘message music’ space.
Banton introduced Garnett Silk merchandise last year, which includes T-Shirts, hats, cups, and phone cases that bear his image and lyrics.
His son, Garnet Silk Jnr, is also preserving his father’s legacy with a music career of his own.
Watch Khaled and Lovey’s conversation below.
Main photo: Garnett Silk