Kingston Jamaica -The name Duane Stephenson conjures up images of a youngster singing with the seven-member group, To-Isis; a young adult embarking on a successful solo journey and more recently, a man on a musical mission traversing Europe, Central America and South America.
Fully accepting his role as a journeyman, it wasn’t surprising that in 2011 Duane Stephenson teamed up with one of reggae’s most mystical groups, The Wailers, and enthusiastically accepted the call to travel with them as their opening act. With the door to musical elevation flung wide open, Duane stepped across the threshold and entered a new, exciting and totally rewarding phase in his professional career.
“I was aware of the fact that as a comparatively young singer in the reggae business, I needed to establish myself fully into the hearts of my home fans before moving on to a phase that would take me away from home for extended periods,” the August Town singer explained.
However, he also knew that an invitation to travel with a group of the caliber and experience of the Wailers was an honour that outweighed everything else. Very soon, the big and the small cities in Europe became his playing ground and his fan base swelled proportionately, even as he learned at the feet of the masters in the reggae music business. Between January 2011 and November 2012, Duane Stephenson spent huge chunks of time on the road as part of the Wailers crew and enjoyed every minute of it.
This journeyman also made the time to do extensive work in the United States in the more non-traditional markets for reggae music, doing music festivals. Duane and the Livewire Band undertook an extensive tour of the US, doing smaller venues in an attempt to break into those markets. Between January and the end of February 2012, travelling ‘old school style’ in a van from town to town, they performed five to six shows a week from Colorado to California and included stops in Oregon and New Mexico. The audiences responded well to the music and that success saw him being invited to the major reggae festivals in California including Reggae on the River, the Sea Breeze Festival and the Sierra Nevada Music Festival.
July 2012 also saw Duane making a return trip to the South American country of Brazil, where he had spent three weeks in December 2011, establishing new but fertile ground to enhance the growth of his music. Building on the foundation which he had built, Duane was able to tour other South American countries including Uruguay, Ecuador, Chile and Peru. A return visit is being finalized for the summer of 2013.
While Duane is quite happy at what he has been able to achieve internationally, he admits that he has missed performing for his home crowd. In order to fill the musical void locally and give his home crowd a something new, he released music videos for the songs Sufferer’s Heights and Fire In Me. The Sufferer’s Heights video, which was released in 2012 has made such an impact that radio is now showing the single some love. Released in 2013, the video for Fire in Me, has also been doing well.
Duane has also recently released two new singles which have the potential to top the charts, To the Lord, produced by Don Corleone on the Scriptures Rhythm and Another Day Another Dollar, a collaboration with Exco Levi on the Penthouse label.
"The journey continues ... and right now, we are focused on home," Duane stated.