Artist to Artist: The Power of Investing In Yourself

Even though I’ve been a recording artist for over 30 years now, I’m always aware that people don’t know my history. Hence, I treat every new song as an opportunity to introduce my uplifting vibe to folks who may be new to my music. That’s why, when I was working on the title track for my latest album, “Rasta Funk,” I came up with the idea to begin with the lyrics: ‘Robert Minott again? Hell yeah! Are you kidding me? Let’s go, let’s go! Rasta Train is coming again…’.  Then I got down to business with a song that, to me, is about people having fun and enjoying life as they should. It’s my way of bringing, what I call ‘feel good’ music into what’s going on in the world today and my contribution to opening people’s eyes to the reality that there’s so much more to bring us together in life than there is if we focus on our differences and argue about them.

I was motivated and ambitious about music from the moment it became a passion of mine and learned about the power of getting out there performing and networking. I first began in my native Jamaica and, after moving to America in New York, where my mother was living and I finished school, I launched my music career in the 90s in Houston. During my high school years, I would hang out at the local dance hall and take every opportunity to start up a rhythm track and start singing and my friends and I would always take a sound system to parties. My first breakthrough in the U.S. was a cover I did of Ready for the World’s “Tonight,” which is a single on the Indie Brown Sound Records.

During my musical journey, I had to do all kinds of day jobs to help support my dream, sometimes three at a time – Wendy’s, McDonald’s, drilling concrete, working as a plumber’s assistant, etc. Young artists have a lot of other options these days with recording and marketing their music because of home studios and social media but, when I began, it took a lot of money and time to record in a studio. That said, my work ethic and everything else that I’ve done in my life has all played a major part in developing my self confidence and personal process as a musician. I would save money from these jobs and use it to rent studio time to record until one track finally caught some attention. Regardless, if you believe in yourself, and you’re surrounded by family, friends and fans who encourage you, you’ll do whatever it takes to invest in yourself until you achieve your goals.

Since those very early years, I have been blessed with a long and unique career that has included performing everywhere from London to Johannesburg, Miami to Jamaica and I have performed alongside some of Reggae’s biggest names – including Maxi Priest, Burning Spear, Shaggy and Bob Marley’s sons, Ziggy Marley, Ky-Mani Marley and Damian aka “Jr. Gong” Marley.

However, the reason I am experiencing the greatest international success I’ve ever had right now is because of who I am working with. My longtime friend and collaborator, former GAP Band associate, Dorian Paul, hooked me up with European producer Hellmut Wolf, who agreed to manage me and sign me to his label Wolf Entertainment. Hellmut’s incredible array of contacts and connections in the music world  introduced me to Stephen Wrench, of Musik and Film, LLC, who is one of the industry’s biggest international radio promoters. Thanks to his efforts, my track “Let’s Chill” hit  #1 on  Reggae Global Radio and “Can’t Hold Back” reached  #4 on the World Indie Music Chart.

Stephen, in turn, hooked me up with veteran PR specialist Tom Estey in New York, a consummate pro who is getting me more magazine and online writeups than I’ve ever had and is working on getting me on many TV outlets, as well. These guys have an entrance to stations and outlets that I’d never had access to before. In other words, you can have the greatest songs in the world and be the most incredible performer, but if you don’t work with industry pros with these important connections and ‘pull’, your options for big numbers and widespread success are limited. After all these years, I’m still learning lessons that I’d advise all upcoming musicians with my ambition and passion; that is, to compete as an Indie artist on this level, as well as having talent and excellent material, you need patience and a long range vision for your career. Finally, of course, you need some money to pay these folks what they are worth.

Particularly in today’s digital cyber world, if you truly want to make a successful career out of sharing your music with the world, you have to invest the time and energy I’ve mentioned. This, of course, involves believing in yourself and seeing that what you create has value and can uplift the lives of others. Just as crucial is self-determination and having a good support system to keep you hungry for the next big opportunity. And, personally, this is something that I’ve had since my early days playing in dance halls in Jamaica.

Another key element that may not apply to everyone but has played a huge role in my life is choosing to keep the spiritual side of yourself intact and staying resistant to any attempts to tear your soul that can result in dragging all artist’s down.  Success in life – and of course, music – happens when you have a purpose that’s grounded and focused on what life has to offer and what you have decided you want for yourself. Always stay focused on your goals and don’t let the irrelevant, negative, or destructive things distract you. At the end of the day, you’re working for your dream and those you love, who in turn can help you stay focused on that purpose. •



Edited by Melissa Lee