You may have heard his reggae song “On My Way” on the radio and not even known that the singer Black Loyalty is not Jamaican but a quiet, humble man from La Horquetta, Arima, by the name of Keon Jones.
To make it clear, unlike most local artistes who do reggae and dancehall, Black Loyalty does not try to sound Jamaican. But his laid-back, yet strong vocals and vibe on the Jah Melody-produced and written track, which sits on the Reminisce Riddim, certainly mirror that of old reggae greats like the Freddy McGregor and Gregory Isaacs.
“I am a roots, rock and reggae artiste,” Black Loyalty said...not that there was any doubt.
“I started singing music at a young age; soca, because I am a Trinbagonian.”
“But in the home where I grew up, my father was drawn to reggae music, like Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley.”
Obviously, it would only take a little while before Black Loyalty too was drawn to the reggae music his father played. Then, he identified his own favourites—Jimmy Cliff, Alton Ellis, Bob Marley and locally, Jah Melody, Isasha, Prophet Benjamin and Queen Omega.
The 32-year-old artiste loved the music of Barry White, too, and admits he dabbled with R&B at one point. And although he is musically versatile when he wants to be, Black Loyalty is sure about this: “Reggae music is my strong point.”
“I love doing cover tracks on stage. Lately, I have been using the song ‘Lean on Me’ (originally by Bill Withers) to open my set.”
When Kitcharee caught up with the married father of three (Prince Imakweh, Prince Ajani, Prince Fatona with wife, Keona Marcano), he was still on a high from his performances at the Great Fete in Tobago and Marcus Hypolite’s I Love concert at Kaiso Blues Cafe last weekend.
“My Great Fete experience was one of the best for me, and I thank the promoters for having me again. This year, there were no foreign singers on the reggae night, so it was just us local singers performing with the Cornerstone Band. I loved performing with that band.”
The singer added that having not performed for the last two years, due to Covid, made his return to the stage even sweeter.
“It was all love at Great Fete from the fans. And my pores raised with the reaction I got at Kaiso Blues Cafe, too.”
Artistes rarely forget their first performance, and Black Loyalty is no exception.
“I was 20 or 21 and I performed with the Mystic Elements band at Club Ibiza on Tragarete Road.
“As the roots man, and the kind of music I brought to the club, the crowd always rocked to my songs.”
Over the years, Black Loyalty also got the opportunity to perform on the same stage as Tarrus Riley at the Redemption Concert and the San Fernando Reggae Festival, which starred Freddy McGregor and Capleton.
‘I use my gifts to guide people’
When it comes to studio work, he is just as spontaneous as he is live.
“I write most of my music, I co-wrote “On My Way” with Jah Melody. The way I write is different, some may call it freestyling.
“I go to the studio, listen to the music, create a vibe, ask the Creator for the words and just express myself.”
Black Loyalty’s discography includes the EP Versatility and singles “Life” , “Better Days” and “My Rights”. All songs can be streamed on audio streaming platforms, inlcuding Spotify.
“I am attached to other recording projects that I can’t talk about right now,” he said. For now, Black Loyalty’s focus is on marketing his Black Loyalty Music brand, rebuilding his social media pages and getting more gigs.
When he is not doing music, Black Loyalty serves as a pyschic healer.
“It is part of my calling and gift,” he said.
“My mum (Marilyn Jones) is a Spiritual Baptist and one of my biggest supporters. In the past, I have had different walks, too, including Hare Krishna, Hinduism, Orisa and Islam.
“I use my gifts to guide people and assist in any way that I can.”
Black Loyalty is also into agriculture.
“As a vegetarian, I try to maintain a simple diet. I grow my food because most of the food out there is already tampered with.”
The singer—whose friends gave him the nickname Buju “because they found I looked like him” (Buju Banton), and who then changed his nickname to Loyalty “because they found that I was a loyal one; I added the Black because of my heritage”—hopes to work with Buju Banton, Chronixx and, believe it or not, Chris Brown, one day.
“I want to work with Chris to change up the frequency of his songs.”
As for his own album goals, the singer offered: “When I put out my next album, I want the title to be “On my Way”.
“I feel that I am on my way to the right people hearing the talent that I got from the Most High.”