Beres Hammond OJ is a Jamaican reggae singer who is credited for pioneering a musical form known as lovers rock. In addition to his low key, but upbeat sound he has perfected an idiosyncratic vocal style tinged with soul influences, perfectly adaptable to his reggae instrumental framework.
Hammond was born on 28 August 1955 in Annotto Bay, saint Mary, Jamaica, the 9th of 10 children. His early musical influences were guided by his father who introduced him to soul and jazz artists like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Hammond later found ska and rocksteady music and cites influences like Alton Ellis, Peter Tosh, Curtis Mayfield, and the Uniques.
By 1972 he was ready to start his own music career. He spent the majority of his upstart competing in local talent competitions, which proved to pay off. In 1975 he was invited as Zap Pow’s lead singer, a group perhaps best known for their 1978 hit single “The System” which was issued through Aquarius Records. Hammond also pursued a solo project in parallel with his stint with Zap Pow and in 1976 he put out his 1st studio album “Soul Reggae”. This release came out through Water Lily and spawned the Jamaican hit “One Step Ahead”. Another hit single “I’m in Love” followed in 1978 and by 1979 he left Zap Pow to focus exclusively on his solo career. However he did diverge from his solo path to form a brief lived performance act known as Tuesday’s Children.
In 1985 Hammond founded a record label of his own called Harmony Records. Through this label he released the album “Make a Song”, which saw his sound embrace the budding dancehall style. This album featured the two hit singles “Groovy Little Thing” and “What One Dance Can Do”, both which peaked to the No.1 spot on the Jamaican Singles chart. These tracks were not only regionally lucrative, but also segued Hammond into international playing grounds.
This international success along with the fact that his house in Jamaica was burglarized prompted him to move to New York City. While in the States he recorded and released the album “Have A Nice Weekend”, which came out in 1988 through Charm records. A year later he released “Putting Up Resistance” through Tappa Records. It would be another three years until his follow up album “A Love Affair” saw release; however, this decade is often considered the highlight of his career. Hammond started off the decade with his biggest hit yet “Tempting to Touch” and proceeded them with two contending successors “Is This a Sign” and “Respect You Baby”. He poured out a string of album releases through the rest of the 90s: “Full Attention” (1993), “Sweetness (1993), “In Control” (1994), “Expression” (1995), “Love From a Distance” (1997), and “A Day in the Life” (1998).
Hammond’s impression on the reggae market refused to wane in the 2000s. His 14th studio album “Music Is Life”, included the three hit singles “They Gonna Talk”, “Rockaway”, and “Ain’t It Good To Know” and also featured the acclaimed pop star Wyclef Jean. His collaborative spree leaked over to his 2004 album, “Love Has No Boundaries”, which featured appearances by Buju Banton and Big Youth. Though Hammond continued to release solid album’s throughout the 2000s such as “Lifetime Guarantee”, “A Moment in Time” and “Just a Man” it was his release of “One Love, One Life”, which certified him as a legend of reggae lovers rock. This album shot to the very top of the Billboard Reggae Album charts and earned him a Grammy nomination in 2014.