Interview with Ambelique
Since Ambelique was introduced to Sly & Robbie to sing a remake of Brian McKnight's "One Last Cry" and it hit No1 in the Reggae Charts in New York, he has never looked back.
Born Owen Silvera in Kingston, Jamaica, Ambelique wrote Tinga Stewart's first song at a young age. He used to live in the same neighbourhood as Tinga and his younger brother Roman Stewart, with whom he used to hang with. His career as turned full circle because, although he's known for his singing abilities, he's just began to get into production as far as writing is concerned.
He left Kingston when he was young and grew up in New York and Massachusetts, California. His sister later gave him his stage name. She took the name from the Swahili word Ambeliquekahleh, which means "God called me."
Ambelique's early influences came from Reggae, R'n'B and Jazz and singers like Ken Booth, Ken Parker and Dave Parker. He shared the bill with the likes of Chuck Jackson while working with Hugh Hendrix. He used to be one of the lead singers amongst others in a band and this took him to many shows with a lot of big names in New York, and at the time of the interview it was his first tour in Europe. Music has taken him to Japan, all around the US and Canada, and he would like to reach anywhere that music is played. Going to so many places on tour has not been without its problems, the most memorable one being when Ambelique was in a car accident.
If Ambelique had not decided back in 1995 to take his singing to a professional level, he would probably have continued in his work as a loan officer with the Lloyds Bank of California.
When asking Ambelique if he feels that it's harder for a singer than a DJ to break into the business, his response is, "The DJs have controlled this thing for such a long time because they appeal to a younger generation and it is hype and catchy and all that, and it's a lot easier for someone to become a DJ. It's easier for a DJ to be successful, but it's harder for him to sustain that success. Singers stay a lot longer, on a whole."
Ambelique doesn't restrict himself to targeting one particular audience because he believes that "Music transcends age and ethnicity and all that stuff. I just write songs about my experiences and about things that I think are relevant you know, mostly love so anyone can really relate to that."
Like many Reggae artists, Ambelique has tried singing live on a sound system. "I tried that once and I failed miserably. It was in Jamaica. It was when I just went to Jamaica and it was on Stone Love. My thing was one drop at the time and dancehall was so prominent. The people enjoyed it, but I just think I flopped. I felt very uncomfortable."
Ambelique has worked with Clive Hunt, Blackbeard and Jet Star, to name a few. He's collaborated with Chevelle Franklin on "La Bamba" and "Our Prayer," which both feature on his album, Love's Got A Hold On You. He's worked with producer Tappa Zukie and DJs Flourgan and Dragon, mainly through Sly & Robbie's Taxi label.
Reggae music is ever evolving, and Ambelique welcomes this "as long as it's positive I think it's all good." He would like to see more organization, "I'd like to see Reggae become more of a business and us collaborating and co-operating with each other more on a business level. There is a problem with it right now, but it's slowly coming together."
Ambelique's biggest singles are the ones that he voiced in England, namely, "Sheriff In Town" and "Bluer Than Blue." These two tracks can be found on his Jet Star released album, Love's Got A Hold On You. The success of the album appears to have had a knock on effect and as a result his first album, which was released on the Taxi label, Ambelique Sings The Classic, has taken off. "It's just like they can't keep it in the stores."
Ambelique sees his opportunities as limitless, and just wants to keep going and says, "I'm not satisfied by no means. I'm quite happy with the direction it's taking so far. The work that I've done for Jet Star as propelled me, it's made me a household name, I think now, in Britain and in some parts of Europe, I hope, and that's what I've heard".
Orlando Sinclair, Ambelique's manager and producer, has decided to ride of the crest of Ambelique's success and negotiations for are a new album are well under way. Ambelique's continuing ambition is to make each album and each record better than the one he did and from what I have heard, he appears to be well on target. He seems to practice what he preaches and advises, "Don't allow anybody to rain on your parade as far as your dreams are concerned. Pursue them with vigour, but with humility."