Happy Birthday King!
Winston Foster, dubbed ‘King Yellowman’, is a Reggae rub-a-dub superstar and deejay who has blazed a trail for Jamaican culture around the world.
Born on Jan 15, Mister Yellowman is an alumnus of the Alpha Boys School, where many of Jamaica’s musical pioneers in Jazz, ska, and Reggae got their early musical training. While still at Alpha, it was after competing in the Tastee Talent Contest that Yellowman was working with top sound systems, headlining stage shows and drawing big crowds due to his ability to effortlessly ride a rhythm and excite a crowd with witty lyrics and humour.
His music taking over local airwaves, Yellowman became the most prominent toaster throughout Jamaica. But it was when he partnered with top producer Henry “Junjo” Lawes, Yellowman began achieving global fame; becoming the biggest reggae artiste since Bob Marley and the first dancehall artiste to be signed to a major American record label, Columbia Records.
A talent for improvisation and rapid-fire lyrics, Yellow.man released his first and one of his most acclaimed albums, ‘Mister Yellowman’ in 1982 followed by the ingenious dancehall classic, Zungguzungguguzungguzeng in 1983. It is said that in the 1980s at the height of his fame, Yellowman had over 40 singles and was producing as many as five albums per year.
During the 1980s, just as his career was taking flight, Yellowman waged battles against skin and throat cancer and was told by doctors that he had few years to live. Now here comes the counter-action for satisfaction. Yellowman kept doing “big tings” and this earned him two reggae Grammy nomination - his first in 1984 for his album ‘King Yellowman’, and his second in 1997 for ‘Freedom of Speech’.
A humble man of the people, the Strong Me Strong deejay is credited for leading the way for the succession of reggae artistes that were embraced by the growing hip-hop community in America during the 1980s. In 2018, adding to his accolades, he was conferred with the national honour of Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for his indelible contribution to Jamaica’s culture and entertainment.
Today, Yellowman continues to perform to sold-out crowds across the world with his Sagittarius Band, bringing that liveliness and boundless energy to his stage presence, just like the days at the outdoor stage shows in the late seventies and early eighties. With newer and more conscious messages, the No More War deejay shows us once more the true pioneer he is. In his four-decade career, despite the unseen and incomprehensible trials he has faced, Yellowman has consistently been able to achieve musical innovation and creativity, no doubt demonstrating the testament of his fortitude and inner strength.