Award-winning recording artist, Exco Levi, has a big week ahead.
Aiming for a fourth straight Juno next Sunday, he will release his debut album at two shows in the city a few days later.
Country Man, which has 19 tracks, is a compilation of songs with personal meaning written by the 34-year-old artist, who migrated from Jamaica a decade ago.
“I am from the country (a rural area) in Jamaica and I wanted the songs on this album to reflect where I come from and the challenges I faced as a new immigrant in Canada among other things,” said Levi, who was born in Mandeville and raised in Clarendon. “It’s a deeply personal album and putting it together has been a very rewarding experience. There’s nothing like having an album that fans can play as much as they like. This is a piece of me that they are playing throughout their day and it feels good.”
Produced by Donovan Germaine for Penthouse Records and Levi’s newly-formed High Priest Records, the album will be available on compact disc and limited edition vinyl.
Launch parties will be held on Wednesday, March 18 at Crawford Bar, 718 College St. W. and the following night at Belleeny’s Martini Lounge, 4000 Steeles Ave. W.
The only reggae artist to win three straight Juno Awards, Levi is one of five artists nominated in the Reggae Recording Artist of the Year category. The others are Mikey Dangerous, Tasha T., Steele and Kirk Diamond.
“This is quite an accomplishment for me,” he said. “The Juno Awards have been around for 44 years and the reggae category was introduced 12 years ago. To win three times is a big achievement for someone like me who has been in Canada just 10 years.”
For Levi, assimilating in a new country was challenging, as it is for most newcomers.
“I worked in a factory and took instructions from supervisors which is something I never did in Jamaica,” he said. “It was hard because I was not used to that. That’s why I have a lot of respect for people who work in factories and in other odd jobs. It’s not easy getting up each day and going to work in the cold. For those who have to catch a bus, it’s even more difficult.”
Levi said his father is his musical inspiration. Michael “Mr. Cool” Levi was a sound system deejay in Clarendon.
“I recognized from a tender age that music was my calling and that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. “I came to this country knowing that I had a talent and that it would take time to manifest itself. I did what I had to do to survive and my hard work is now paying off. Music has allowed me to take care of my family.”