Born Rowan Smith, Anthony Cruz grew up in rural Mandeville, Manchester. He comes from a talented musical family, with uncle Garnett Silk, cousin Aaron Silk, and his parents who were excellent singers.
Cruz himself describes music as ‘a vibration that builds a connection from the artist to the people’s hearts’. He evidently achieves this connection with his songs as ‘Turn It Up’ and ‘Half Way Tree’ are ever so popular and placed Anthony Cruz right at the heart of the reggae beat.
His songs are spilling over with emotion and are paired with a catchy groove. Despite being charmed by being called a singer for the ladies, he is adamant that his music is for everybody. “It doesn’t matter if you are a woman or man, Jamaican, European, African or Asian – once you have experienced what I am singing about the music will touch you. It all comes back to singing music for the heart and the soul. Music is everything.”
Have you always sung very emotional songs?
I started right there. I grew up listing to the foundation artists like Beres Hammond, John Holt and Delroy Wilson. I realised that this is the music that has the potential to uplift, educate and touch people’s hearts. That’s what I wanted to do with my music.
Who have you worked with during your career?
Bobby Digital, King Jammy’s, Sly & Robby, Buju Banton, Capleton, Denis Brown and Beenie Man. I am very picky when it comes to who I work with. You can’t be working with someone who is not on the same level. It’s not about age, but you have to have a similar mind set.
What do you make of talent shows?
When I get the time I sit back and watch them. Quite a few artists got a break this way. What I don’t watch however are charts because they are fabricated. The listeners are the real judges of the music and once you get that panel where people can hear your music, it’s all that matters.
What are your current projects?
Producers send you new riddims all the time so one can’t get away but constantly work. This is Jamaica, beats are made every day. I always have new songs.
What is your take on the state of reggae music?
When you understand how the radio and TV stations work then you realise how much influence they have. We will never stop making good reggae music in Jamaica, the question is what is promoted. Music is politics where people spend a lot of money to buy influence, but it should be about what the world really loves.
I hope people see that when you put forward entertainers without a positive message it will break down the industry. If you push the dirt and guys jumping into girls this is what you get. When the positive music is upfront however, shows are kept more frequently because its a positive energy.
Those in control have to put back the good reggae music which is still being produced. Yes, dancehall is a part of our culture but its not the best part. I’m sure everybody loves reggae music but not everybody loves dancehall music. Bob Marley, Garnet Silk, all those guys brought reggae music to the world, but the world will not take on to the ‘skin out ting’. Not everybody likes that.
But isn’t dancehall a good medium to just let go?
It’s not about letting go, it’s about the message. You might dance to a dancehall song and feel nice, yes, but you have to check the message. You have to stop and listen what the young girls are told to do. Dancehall as a genre is ok, but it’s the message that makes it or breaks it for me.
What is your ultimate aim?
To let everybody know who Anthony Cruz is and what I have to bring to the table – and that’s good reggae music.
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