About Maxi Priest
Max Alfred "Maxi" Elliott , known by his stage name Maxi Priest, is a British reggae vocalist of Jamaican descent. He is best known for singing reggae music with an R&B influence, otherwise known as reggae fusion. He was one of the first international artists to have success in this genre, and one of the most successful reggae fusion acts of all time.
Maxi Priest was born in Lewisham, London, the second youngest of nine brothers and sisters. His parents had moved to England from Jamaica to provide more opportunity for their family and he grew up listening to gospel, reggae, R&B, and pop music. He first learned to sing in church, encouraged by his mother, who was a Pentecostal missionary.
Maxi grew up listening to Jamaican greats such as Dennis Brown, John Holt, Ken Boothe and Gregory Isaacs as well as singers like Marvin Gaye, Al Green, the Beatles, Phil Collins and Frank Sinatra.
As a teenager, he lifted speaker boxes for the Jah Shaka and Negus Negast sound-systems. He was a founder member of Saxon Studio International, and it was with Saxon that Maxi began performing at neighbourhood youth clubs and house parties.
His music is sometimes closer to R&B and pop than to reggae. His cousin, Jacob Miller, a reggae icon, was the frontman in the popular reggae group Inner Circle.
Priest's musical career began with him singing on the South London reggae soundsystem Saxon Studio International, after which some independent single releases followed. His first major album, Maxi , was released in 1988, and, along with his cover of Cat Stevens' "Wild World", established him as one of the top British reggae singers.
He is one of only two British reggae acts to have an American Billboard number one: "Close to You" in 1990. A duet with Roberta Flack, "Set the Night to Music", reached the American Top Ten in 1991. His duet with Shaggy in 1996, "That Girl", was also a hit in the United States, peaking at number twenty.
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