Humanity has become one of the ‘now’ words as nations grapple with the invisible monster called COVID-19. At the end of March, the United Nations launched a US$2-billion coordinated global humanitarian response plan to fight COVID-19 in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries. Last Friday, producer Collin ‘Bulby’ York released a single titled ‘ Humanitarian’, in recognition of the power of music, the most consumed form of culture globally, to soothe and heal, especially during these bleak times.
An audio engineer as well as a producer who has worked with some of the huge names in the business, Bulby, a 2020 honouree of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), disclosed that he is thrilled about this latest project. A collaborative single, it features Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jimmy Cliff, Grammy award-winning artiste Bounty Killer, and multi-award winning reggae artiste Capleton.
“ Humanitarian is a song made to provide comfort and hope to the mind, body, and soul. Listening to this song will certainly create a calming effect to the people of the world who are anxious and fearful. The message of Humanitarian will allow people to know that even though they are struggling at this very moment with uncertainty and chaos, they will not forget their humanity,” Bulby told The Gleaner.
Humanitarian is a reworking of an original Jimmy Cliff song, from his 1999 album of the same name. Notably, this is the first time that Cliff, Capleton and Bounty are performing on the same track, and although Bulby had to carefully strategise to bring his vision to reality, he is confident that it was well worth the effort. But, as Bulby explained, it could easily not have happened. “I wanted a deejay on this song to give it that excitement and the energy, and put that dance vibe in it. But I had to convince Jimmy Cliff that this was the right move,” he stated.
Whether it was to halt the pressure from Bulby or him seeing “the vision”, Cliff finally relented and even made the call regarding which deejay he wanted on the song. “Jimmy said go with Bounty Killer because he is his favourite deejay. I called up Bounty and told him about the project and he was ready, no questions. Same with Capleton. So Jimmy did his part first and then Capleton and Bounty did theirs,” the veteran producer said. “And now Jimmy loves the song,” a triumphant Bulby added.
Released last Friday on all platforms, Humanitarian is the title single from the producer’s album project which is nearing completion. “I am just waiting on two more artistes to finish up the album. We were also just about to shoot the video for Humanitarian when the coronavirus shut down everything. All the logistics were in place to do the shoot and, out of an abundance of caution, we scrapped everything,” he shared.
As far as the effects of the pandemic are concerned, Bulby is simply “going with the flow” and looking to between 2021 and 2022 for things to regain some semblance of balance. “Right now, I have no plans because things seem to change every day. Touring has stopped and everybody is broke – musicians, artistes and patrons. Nobody will have any money to buy gas and tickets to go to concerts, even when this thing is over. Twenty-two million persons have filed for unemployment in the US alone. That’s a lot of people,” he said.
A member of the Fat Eyes crew who launched a solo career in 2016, Bulby has worked on projects with the top tier in reggae and dancehall, among them Shabba Ranks ( Xtra-Naked, As Raw As Ever, Caan Dun); Super Cat ( Don Dadda, The Struggle Continues, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly); Beres Hammond ( Can’t Stop A Man, A Moment In Time, Music Is Life, Love Has No Boundaries, In Control, Love From A Distance, Sweetness, One Love, One Life, Never Ending), and Sean Paul ( Dutty Rock). His international credits include projects with Rihanna, Sinead O’Conner, Madonna, Britney Spears, Black Uhuru, Grace Jones and Micheal Franti.
However, in the midst of the coronavirus crisis, Bulby pledges to continue doing what he does best – producing timeless music.