Cleveland Watkiss: The Great Jamaican Songbook

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Cleveland Watkiss sings the songs of Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Delroy Wilson, and more.

Born in the East End of London, Cleveland Watkiss is a virtuoso vocalist, actor and composer. At age 16, he won twice in a local singing talent competition, hosted by “FatMan” of FatMan Sound System (North East London Based Roots, Reggae & Dub Sound System). Watkiss at the London School of Singing with opera coach Arnold Rose and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Cleveland was also one of the co-founders of the vastly influential Jazz Warriors big band. His vocals can be heard on their debut album, Out of Many People, which won a video award in Japan.

Cleveland was then entered for the Wire/Guardian Jazz Awards and was voted best vocalist for three consecutive years. He was the opening act of choice for two of the world’s greatest female jazz vocalists Cassandra Wilson and Abbey Lincoln. John Fordham, the Guardian music journalist accurately describes Cleveland as “arriving on the scene with a bang”.

His amazing vocal experiences have seen him perform with many diverse artists from around the world such as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Dusseldorf Symphony Orchestra, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Dylan, Jackie Mittoo, Keith Richards, the James Taylor Quartet, Art Blakey, Sly & Robbie, Abdullah Ibrahim, Stevie Wonder, Patife, the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, Nigel Kennedy, Carlinhos Brown, Robbie Williams, Joe Cocker, The Who, Branford Marsalis, George Martin, Julian Joseph, Bocato Big Band, Lisa Stansfield, Courtney Pine, Janet Kay, Maxi Priest, Soul II Soul, the London Chamber Orchestra, Kassa Mady, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Goldie, Cassandra Wilson, the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Sugar Minot, Talvin Singh, Bjork, Pete Townshend, the London Community Gospel Choir [LCGC] and many many more.

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