BY: ALYSSA MAHADEO
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from, but everyone has a story filled with experiences that define the people we are and a reflection of who we truly hope to be.
The life of any musically inclined artist usually begins as a dream. A dream to touch people across the world with the beauty and lucid art of the written word. For Mark Steele, it was to capture the hearts of the young women at his high school Herbert Morrison High School in Montego Bay, Jamaica with the beautiful and resoundingly deep lyrics of Air Supply’s All Out Of Love.
Born and raised in Hanover, Jamaica Steele’s career in music began in his early years inspired as a youth by his parents who were singers in the church choir. He began singing at the age of ten, and in high school, it became clear that a career in music was imminent. After graduation, he moved to Jamaica’s capital city Kingston. Steele’s first taste of success came with his recording of Stevie Wonder’s “Ribbon in the Sky”, produced by veteran singer and producer Tristan Palmer, but before the songs full potential could be realized, Steele migrated to Canada.
After landing in Canada at the age of twenty-three, Steele didn’t allow the move to dampen his dreams of becoming a musical artist. It was a new landscape to maneuver, but “it was basically about seeing what Canada had to offer from a reggae music perspective.” Steele says. During that time, Reggae music hadn’t reached international popularity, there was a hint of it here and there in Canada, but nothing solid had been established.
“My focus became to use Canada as my platform,” Steele says, “Reggae was born in Jamaica, but I wanted to bring it here and celebrate it in Canada.”
With over twenty years in the industry, Steele is described as dynamic and sensational, with the versatility and range that defies restriction to any one genre. He is as captivating in his handling of R&B material as he is with soul, reggae, gospel, classical, and jazz. He is now regarded as the most consistent reggae artist to call Canada home, his music transcends all ages, gender, and color and has made a lasting imprint on the reggae music-loving audiences with appearances at various venues in most major cities in Canada.
Over the years, Steele has been nominated for numerous awards including the JUNO’s a reflection of the impact he has made in the music industry. However, he isn’t looking for the recognition, his main priority is to ensure that his music is reaching the masses and that people can relate to his lyrics. “I think that’s the best way to keep a long-term lifeline in the music business.” Steele says.
Although most people recognize him as a singer, Steele is an accomplished musician, songwriter, and producer who have earned a reputation as a perfectionist with his professional approach to his music. He takes pride in weaving together deep and soulful lyrics, “Music that people can feel generation after generation,” he says. “The lyrical content needs to always be 110 per cent uncorrupted, so you can listen to it while your grandmother listens to it.”
Spending some of his youth living in Kingston, Steele understands what it means to be hungry. He understands the hustle life brings and has made the necessary sacrifices to feed the music in his soul. “The best education I ever received in life was street smarts and fostering my common sense,” says Steele.
He says many times his peers would tell him that he should go back to Jamaica he could make a bigger name for himself, but he knows that ultimately, he is the captain of his own ship, “I’m already here in Canada, so why don’t I make the best of it?” He has been blessed to travel internationally to perform, but he knows the most important aspect of staying in the industry is to stay relevant.
Steele is inspired to write in the Lover’s Rock genre, enjoying the presence of artists like Maxi Priest, Beres Hammond, Lionel Richie who really know how to capture their audience and deliver a memorable performance. He hopes to instill a positive message through his music to reach the younger generation. His latest album Real Life speaks to the real perspective of human interaction, relationships, and situations that listeners can relate to on a personal level.
“Your destiny is your destiny and the one you choose sometimes you suffer through it, or you don’t reach the pinnacle of where you think you should be,” Steele explains you have to give the almighty thanks because your blessings are not someone else’s, blessings count your blessings and appreciate this life and deal with it accordingly.”