At age 65, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff is one of the most recognizable voices in the genre, but after five decades in the music business, he's yet to reach his full potential, at least in his own head.
"I have not become the artist I believe I am," he told Rolling Stone last year. "I'm not done at all. I want to become a stadium act."
Stadium or not, he did nab a Grammy for best reggae album for "Rebirth," his latest CD, at the awards ceremony in February.
Cliff's sweet tenor is the most recognizable voice in reggae, second only to the only other fellow Jamaican Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, Bob Marley.
This afternoon, Cliff will perform a free show at Solaris in Vail. In May, he heads to Jazz Fest in New Orleans and come June, he'll start his European tour, with shows planned in France, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom and more. One thing is certain, Cliff is focused:
"I got one more shot at the goal/Straight from my soul/I'm in control," Cliff sings on "One More," the lead track from "Rebirth."
'Not giving up'
Cliff's lyrics are uplifting, and that's just one of the things about Cliff that appeals to Avon resident Jose Morales. Morales has listened to Cliff for nearly 30 years, he said.
"He was pretty politically and socially involved back in the day," Morales said. "He protested against the Vietnam War, with a lot of the social causes in his home town, he was a very vocal and powerful voice, not just out there making money and living a luxurious lifestyle."
His favorite songs are some of Cliff's most well known: "The Harder They Come" and "Many Rivers to Cross."
"Listening to the lyrics, they're super inspirational; they're all about not giving up and pursuing what you want to do in life and not letting anyone deter you," Morales said.
Those words certainly describe how Cliff has lived his own life. Born in Jamaica, he began writing songs when he was just a youngster and recorded his first hit, "Hurricane Hattie," at age 14.
"He came from humble beginnings and he never forgot that," Morales said. "He struggled so hard to be his own man and be his own producer. After that, he decided to do films."
Indeed, in 1972, along with recording the title track, Cliff starred as Ivanhoe "Ivan" Martin in the classic reggae film "The Harder They Come."
A pond-skimming party
Vail Mountain's 50th anniversary ski and snowboard season officially comes to an end on Sunday, but not before some great parties, including the always-entertaining World Pond Skimming Championship. The festivities get underway at 1:30 p.m. at Vail Mountain's Golden Peak with sponsor expos and giveaways, and the Pond Skimming competition begins at 3 p.m.
The Closing Day tradition of donning costumes and skimming across icy water holds strong as 75 participants will careen themselves off a snow jump in the hopes of coming out on the other side at the World Pond Skimming Championships. The top male and female in the contest will each be awarded an Epic Pass donated by Vail Resorts and a pair of Liberty Skis. A panel of judges scores each competitor on distance, style, creativity and water resistance.
"Saying goodbye to this season is bitter sweet," said Davy Ratchford, director of marketing and sales for Vail Mountain. "Vail Mountain is still in terrific shape for skiing and snowboarding, but we're going to close out the 50th year by making sure everyone has a lot of fun at the final Spring Back to Vail events."