After cutting his teeth as a background vocalist and session musician, Bantan says he believes he has paid his dues and now it’s time he gets a piece of the spotlight.
“I have been in the industry for quite a while and I now want to bring my talents as a lead vocalist to the fore,” he said.
On seeing him for the first time, Bantan didn’t strike me as the soulful singer that I was about to discover. Sporting a thick mop of dreadlocks and a demeanour I have come to associate with ragga artists, I surmised that he would be another clone of the Sizzla Kalonjis or Buju Bantons of this world.
However it seems his likeness to them ends there because for one he speaks audible English unlike most ragga artists who speak the inaudible Jamaican patois.
His music can best be described as reggae with an R&B influence, otherwise known as reggae fusion whose notables include Maxi Priest.
“My music has been influenced by such musicians as Luther Vandross, Alexander O’Neill and Barry Sanchez,” he said much to my surprise.
From his music it is quite clear that he subscribes to the “old school” style of reggae of the Maxi Priest fare.
“My music is a fusion of soul and reggae and I try to merge these genres that I love to come up with my own style.”
His career began quite a while ago, commencing at the pristine age of 13 as one of the finalists in the youth talent show Star Bright screened on ZTV.
According to his artist profile, he acquired the name Junior Bantan because his elder brother Andrew — who happens to be an illustrative artist — was known as Andy Bantan.
He wound up in the group Midnight Magic which is fronted by “Prince” Tendai Mupfurutsa, along with his brother Kenny. The product of their collaboration, Bantan says, was the album Barbed Wire Music in which he sang such songs as African Cowboy, Mapere ne Mazizi and Zambezi to Limpopo, and also featured Willis Wataffi and Taz, formerly of the group Africa Revenge.
A self-taught bass guitarist, Bantan also featured as a backing vocalist for Trevor Hall and his Crucial Mix in the late 1990s, later on forming a band with Major E, Booker T, Malvin S and Decibel called L G Family in the early years of the last decade.
For most of his career therefore, Bantan has been known either as a backing vocalist or a bass guitar player. But it seems he is determined to see that profile change.
“I have always wanted to produce my own album which expresses my individual music style which hopefully listeners will like,” he explained.
Tomorrow the 33-year old is set to formally make his presence known in the music industry with the launch of a two-track offering at the Phat Sams Arts Lounge at Westgate Mall.
“I decided to release these tracks early so that I would get a feel of how the market responds to my music. It is pretty much testing the waters,” he said.
“I am working on a full album titled The Reckoning which I look forward to finishing before the end of the year.”