Big sound: Biggie Irie will perform at the John Lennon Peace Day Concert on September 21. *Photo supplied
Big sound: Biggie Irie will perform at the John Lennon Peace Day Concert on September 21. *Photo supplied

He calls Bermuda his second home and Biggie Irie is itching to get back. 

He has been here every year since he began performing at Hawkins Island with the Tropical Heat band in 2002 and now the Barbadian reggae star is preparing to bring his full Splash Band to perform here for the first time. 

Biggie, born Geoffrey Cordle, promises to perform an electrifying set of Bob Marley covers and original songs as part of the Second Annual Lennon Bermuda Peace Concert at the Botanical Gardens on September 21. 

He describes the band as a mix between Third World, Steel Pulse and Aswad but with its own “danceable and conscious sound.”

Speaking to the Bermuda Sun from his Barbados home, he said: “I love Bermuda, it’s my second home. The people, they really love my music and music in general. I get really good response from Bermudian audience — they are party people and they are nice people too, they remind me of Barbadians. 

“You can expect great music, we are known for good reggae music. It will be packed with entertainment and excitement and the band is ready to pump and show Bermudians what we can do.”

Biggie’s voice is described as “rich like molasses” and he is known for his commanding stage presence. He began his career in 1986 with a reggae group called Exodus and has since performed more intimate set with fellow band member saxophone doyen Arturo Tappin of Roberta Flack, Luther Vandross and Freddie Jackson fame. 

It was Arturo Toppin who christened him Biggie Irie because of his big stature, big sound and amiable personality. 

While he has fronted other bands including Biggie Irie and The Israelites who performed here in 2004, Barbadians perhaps best know him as the founder of The Splash Band. They have shared the stage with the likes of the late “Crown Prince of Reggae” Dennis ‘Emmanuel’ Brown, Luciano, Maxi Priest, Barrington Levi, Beenie Man and Buju Banton, not to mention Caypso veterans such as Byron Lee and the Dragonnaires and Mighty Sparrow.

The Lennon Bermuda Peace Concert will be the first time the full band has performed here though the drummer and guitarists played here last year to perform on Biggie’s version of John Lennon’s Woman. They also backed Maxi Priest at the same concert. The band got together in 1990 and have recorded over 100 songs some of which were chart toppers in the Caribbean, the UK and North America. Their 2007 hit Nah Going Home went on to win the International Groovy Soca  Monarch in Trinidad. 

The band just performed a big concert in Barbados in August with Spice and Company. 

Biggie said: “It was a huge concert and I hope to do it again — I’d even look at taking it there to Bermuda as well.”

Among the artists he has most enjoyed working with are Third World, Maxi Priest and Barrington Levi. 

“We did a tour with Third World in the US in 1999 that covered all 50 states in the USA over nine weeks. They asked me to perform live with them which was great. After that I did a couple of tours with Maxi Priest — he’s a really cool guy to work with very professional. With Barrington Levi, Beres Hammond it’s the same — they are all very cool people and professional.”

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