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Michael Prophet has died

The singer who bridged the gap between roots reggae and dancehall was 60 years old

Roots singer Michael Prophet died in Bedford, England, on 16 December following a battle with cancer. He had international success, recording with producers such as Yabby You, Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes, Al Campbell, Sugar Minott and others, and last year headlined at the Lambeth County Show in London. “He was an important figure in many ways,” says David Katz, “especially because he bridged the gap between roots reggae and dancehall. He remained in demand as a recording artist and a live performer because his stage shows were always dynamic and the quality of his voice somehow never diminished, despite the passing of time.”

Born Michael George Haynes on 3 March 1957 in Kingston, Jamaica, he started recording in the 1970s, working with producer Yabby You. He released his debut single "Praise You Jah Jah" in 1977, and in 1980 Island Records released Serious Reasoning with Yabby You, establishing his international reputation. In the early 1980s Prophet began recording with Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes, a shift that had him adopting the dancehall sound. He released the major hit album Gunman (Greensleeves), upon which Channel One’s Scientist and Barnabas worked on the sound. Several versions of its tracks made it onto Greensleeves' best selling dub album Scientist Rids The World Of The Evil Curse Of The Vampires.

Following a few years in Miami, Prophet moved to England. Further hits included "Hypocrites" with former Stur-Mars and Coxsone Outernational deejay Ricky Tuffy, and "Your Love", which in 1990 reached number one in the UK reggae chart. In 1992 he released the self-produced album Bull Talk, and went on to work with UK producers such as Ruff Cutt, Lloydie Crucial and Mad Professor, as well as with the UK duo Soothsayers. He featured in Channel Four's Deep Roots Music documentary series and in recent years he appeared at various festivals including Rototom Sunsplash in Spain and One Love Festival in the UK. He was due to perform with Leicester based reggae collective Vibronics at Outlook Festival 2018.