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My coversong You And I of Jimmy Cliff 1985

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Published on Aug 24, 2012

Jimmy Cliff, OM (born James Chambers on 1 April 1948) is a Jamaican musician, singer and actor. He is the only currently living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honour that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievement in the arts and sciences.

Cliff is best known among mainstream audiences for songs such as "The Harder They Come," "Sitting in Limbo", "You Can Get It If You Really Want" and "Many Rivers to Cross" from the soundtrack to The Harder They Come, which helped popularize reggae across the world;[2] and his covers of Cat Stevens' "Wild World" and Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" from the film Cool Runnings. Outside of the reggae world, he is probably best known for his film appearance in The Harder They Come. Cliff was one of five performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.

Jimmy Cliff was born in Somerton District, St. James, Jamaica.[3] He began writing songs while still at primary school in St. James, listening to a neighbour's sound system. In 1962 his father took him to Kingston to go to Kingston Technical school, where he ended up sharing his cousin's one rented room in East Kingston.


Jimmy Cliff playing an African drum at Guilfest 2012Cliff sought out many producers while still going to school, trying to get his songs recorded without success. He also entered talent contests. "One night I was walking past a record store and restaurant as they were closing, pushed myself in and convinced one of them, Leslie Kong, to go into the recording business, starting with me," he writes in his own website biography
In 1972, Cliff starred as Ivanhoe "Ivan" Martin in the classic reggae film, The Harder They Come, directed by Perry Henzell. As the film tells Martin's story, he is a young man without funds. Arriving in Kingston from the country, he tries to make it in the recording business, but without success. Eventually, he turns to a life of crime. The soundtrack album of the film was a huge success that sold well across the world, bringing reggae to an international audience for the first time. It remains the most significant film to have come out of Jamaica since independence. The film made its debut at London's Notting Hill Gaumont cinema on 1 September 1972.[6]

After a series of albums, Cliff took a break and traveled to Africa, and subsequently converted to Islam, and took the new name: El Hadj Naïm Bachir. [7] and [8] He quickly returned to music, touring for several years before he recorded with Kool & the Gang for The Power and the Glory (1983). In 1984 Cliff appeared at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands.

During the 1981 River Tour, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band added Cliff's previously little-known song "Trapped" to their live set; it achieved great prominence when included on 1985's We Are the World benefit album. The follow-up, Cliff Hanger (1985) won a Grammy Award for 'Best Reggae Album', though it was his last major success in the U.S. until 1993. Also in 1985 Cliff contributed to the song "Sun City," a protest song written and composed by Steven Van Zandt and recorded by Artists United Against Apartheid to convey opposition to the South African policy of apartheid.[9] Cliff then provided backing vocals on The Rolling Stones' 1986 album, Dirty Work. In 1988, his song "Shelter of Your Love" was featured in the hit film Cocktail.

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