Sanchez is one of the all time favorite singer/performer who transforms his audience into a mass choir at his live performances. He epitomizes elegance and style and is always splendidly attired in a formal suit, enhanced with gold chains and bracelets, giving fans the ultimate in appearance and presentation. His selection of songs range from soulful R&B to hardcore Dancehall, Reggae, balanced with religiously calming cuts that enhance the spiritual vibes of his act.
Born Kevin Anthony Jackson on November 30, 1964, Sanchez grew up in the Stony Hill and Waterhouse sections of Kingston, Jamaica. Like so many of the island’s celebrated vocalists Sanchez started singing in the church at a tender age, just 6 years old. By his 13th birthday he led the junior, then the senior choir at the Rehoboth Apostolic Church in the southeastern Jamaican parish of St. Catherine. As is true for numerous church-trained reggae superstars the secular lure of Saturday night sound system dances proved more compelling than Sunday morning church services. “Music transformed me; coming home from church and passing parties, hearing people on the mic doing their thing, people jumping and all of that, I was like LAAWD! That’s what I want to do!” Sanchez reminisced, his voice becoming more animated. “But I said OK, you can’t do both; if you are going to go out there, just go out there because you can’t have one foot in (the church) and one foot out. So I decided I am going into dancehall music, good reggae music overall.”
Back in the mid 1980s when Jamaican sound systems were still as notable for their resident artists as they were for their exclusive tunes, Sanchez was the selector (the person who selects the records/CDs for play) for Rambo International Sound System, one of the era’s most popular because it was home to three of the era’s top deejays (rappers) Flourgon, Daddy Lizard, and Red Dragon. The deejay trio dubbed Kevin Jackson “Sanchez” after he executed an overhead scissors kick during an impromptu game of football (soccer), an impressive feat associated with the legendary Mexican player Hugo Sanchez. Jamaica’s Sanchez displayed comparable dexterity in the dancehall as a top-notch selector with commanding vocal capabilities. “Whenever I got the privilege of selecting, I made use of it, believe me, even if it’s a wedding reception, I am going to find a point to put on a few songs and sing something,” he laughingly recalled. “After I played the right (vocal) side of the music, I would flip it over and do my piece (singing along to the instrumental side) and people would stare at one another and say is he singing for real? I kept thinking of pursuing a career in this field greater than selecting. I tried it, it worked and I never looked back.” Sanchez recorded his first single for producer Hugh “Redman” James, a cover of Chris DeBurgh’s blockbuster ballad “Lady In Red” in 1986. As Sanchez’s rendition climbed the Jamaican charts, the singer was suddenly deluged with offers from producers anxious to adapt his magnificent vocals into hits of their own. An onslaught of hit tunes followed including a soulful interpretation of Tony Braxton’s “Another Sad Love Song” for Bobby Digital’s Digital B label; an upbeat reggae rendition of Glenn Medeiros’ “Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone” for Winston Riley’s Techniques; a rollicking remake of funk band Ready For The World’s “Let Me Love You Down” for Black Scorpio, and a sincere one-drop do over of Air Supply’s “Here I Am” for Phillip Fattis Burrell’s Xterminator. Sanchez earned multiple Jamaican music awards throughout the ’87 to ’88 season and his 1988 performance at Jamaica’s (now defunct) Reggae Sunsplash garnered an unprecedented five encores, an occurrence he cites as one of the most extraordinary moments of his long, illustrious career. Throughout the 90s and into the 21st century, Sanchez’s honey-toned interpretations continued to sweeten the dancehall mix, irrespective of musical trends. His soaring yet controlled sound propelled stunning covers of Shai’s “If I Ever Fall In Love Again” and Michael Bolton’s “Missing You Now” as well as his original songs of worship “Praise Him” and “Never Dis the Man,” to the top of international reggae charts and to prominent positions on selectors’ play lists where they remain today, a testament to the timelessness of his flawless approach.
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