On the August 20th edition of the Bovine Ska and Rocksteady, we started off the show with two sets of ska, which included the track, “Can the Poor Survive” from the Four Aces, a single never before played on the BSR. After the mento set of the week, we were delighted to present an interview with Ken Parker to commence the spotlight on the great vocalist.
Though Ken Parker eventually had a fantastic set of tracks as a soloist, he began his music career as a backup vocalist. When he left Westmoreland Parish and arrived in Kingston, Ken matched up with two men named Bill and Gil to back up vocalists at Studio One as the backing group, The Blues Blenders. During this time period, they would audition for other labels and would cut a few tracks for Coxone’s competitor, King Edwards.
When the Blues Blenders eventually got the chance to audition as a spotlight vocal group, Bill and Gil did not show up for the audition, and Ken went for the audition as a solo artist. After a successful try out, he would stay at Coxone as a soloist for Studio One, where Coxone would give him Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke, and Jim Reeves records in order for Ken to pick the singer’s style that most appealed to him, and the influence of these artists can definitely be heard throughout his recordings. In addition, Ken credits Coxone Dodd as the man who taught him how to sing in the reggae style as compared to a gospel ballad style, which was the way that Ken was most familiar with.
The Ken Parker spotlight includes his recordings with the Blues Blenders and his solo tracks for producers Coxone Dodd, Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Joe Gibbs, and Lloyd Charmers. It includes Ken Parker’s ska and reggae recordings and two of his most beautiful gospel tracks.
Here is the archive link for this special Ken Parker spotlight, which will be available via the WMBR website until 9/1/2014. LISTEN NOW
Our show can be heard live in the Boston area on 88.1FM, WMBR Cambridge from midnight to 2 am ET on Tuesday nights/Wednesday early mornings or anywhere online at WMBR.ORG.