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Members include Pat Carey, guitar; Ron Carey (son of Pat Carey), vocals; Colyn "Mo" Grant; Nehemiah Hield (left group c. 1999), vocals; Omerit Hield (nephew of Nehemiah Hield),vocals; Marvin Prosper, rapper; Isaiah Taylor (born in the Bahamas), percussion. Addresses: Record company--Artemis Records, 130 5th Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY, 10011, E-mail: e-mail: S-CurveRec@ua.net.
After more than 20 years of adapting their native junkanoo music for popular audiences, Baha Men recorded "Who Let the Dogs Out" in 2000, and the song became a virtual national anthem for professional and amateur sports teams across the United States. The inherent gaiety of the band's catchy tunes and Caribbean rhythms, and the carefree simplicity of Baha Men lyrics, combine to endow these musicians with a universal charisma that bridges all generations.
Percussionist Isaiah Taylor founded the Baha Men around 1980 along with two friends, Colyn "Mo" Grant and Nehemiah Hield. The group, originally billed as High Voltage, was renamed Baha Men in the early 1990s and included seven members by the late 1990s. Baha Men's Junkanoo music is rooted in a traditional Caribbean music form that came about when West Indian slaves implemented rhythms from their native Africa to create a type of secret code based in tapping and humming. The rhythms developed into an effective communication tool of which the slave masters were unaware, and the slaves subsequently organized a successful uprising and revolt through the use of their rhythmic junkanoo communication. As it passed through generations, junkanoo absorbed aspects of ska and reggae. Even pop and rhythm and blues influenced the genre. Although Taylor, by his own admission, disliked music studies as a student and failed to cultivate a refined ear for music, he dreamt one night, as a child, that he would one day start a junkanoo band of world class renown. In adulthood, Taylor heeded his youthful inspiration and met with success.
Between 1999 and 2000, Baha Men added a trio of new vocalists into the mix of the band. Along with the new personnel, the band members integrated rap, hip-hop, and the Jamaican dance hall rhythms into the distinctive junkanoo blend and soon afterward realized Taylor's dream. The success of Baha Men among mainstream audiences was intricately entwined with S-Curve Records founder, Steve Greenberg. When the original High Voltage group came to his attention in 1991, he signed the band with the Big Beat/Atlantic label, a company for whom he scouted talent at that time. Greenberg renamed the band Baha Men and released two recordings on Atlantic. The 1992 debut album, Junkanoo,was followed by Kalikin 1994.Kalik is the word that describes the clanging toll of the junkanoo cowbell.
Baha Men signed with Mercury Records, also at Greenberg's invitation, when Greenberg switched labels. The group released two albums at Mercury. The first, in 1997, was entitled I Like What I Like, followed by Doong Spank in 1998. Baha Men released a series of appealing covers of popular Sly (Family Stone) and Fats Domino classics and cutting edge arrangements of works by Lenny Kravitz. Their recordings solicited excellent media reviews, even while success on the American music charts proved elusive. Billboardnoted of 1997's I Like What I Likethat the songs combined to define "an album whose energy never sags." The magazine's Larry Flick called the album a "yummy dance/pop confection." Yet the group made a less than impressive showing at Mercury, where one album sold a mere 700 copies.
At the close of the 1990s, Greenberg and his protégé Baha Men took their leave from Mercury, and Greenberg established his own record label, S-Curve. The combined circumstances of a new and untested record label and the loss of one of the founding members--lead singer Nehemiah Hield, after 20 years with the group--failed to deter the performers. Instead, with the departure of Hield the group took the opportunity to expand the septet to include nine members by adding three vocalists to replace Hield. After an audition in the Bahamas, the band signed three new singers, including Hield's nephew, Omerit Hield, who was working as a bank teller at that time. It is Omerit Hield's voice that leads the band in the sultry track, "Where Did I Go Wrong," on Baha Men's S-Curve debut album in 2000.
As the new singers joined the band, they were selected in part for diversity of style. Among the new recruits, a hip-hop singer and a rapper named Marvin Prosper joined the Men. Greenberg, unwavering in his conviction that Baha Men was destined for success, set out to rework a soulful Anslem Douglas carnival hit, "Who Let the Dogs Out," in collaboration with percussionist Taylor. The endeavor resulted in the release of a raucous, junkanoo party tune, intended, according to Taylor, to energize the song--as well as the band--with youth appeal.
When the newly regrouped junkanoo band set the canines lose with their single release of "Who Let the Dogs Out" on the startup S-Curve label in 1999, the recording set Baha Men on track toward becoming a household name in the United States. The song served as the title track for an upbeat party album released on July 25, 2000, and easily brought the group to widespread attention as a crossover group into mainstream and popular music. When the Rugrats in Paris soundtrack was released in October that year, "Who Let the Dogs Out" was a featured track, and the song quickly brought Baha Men to the attention of media critics. The track, featuring Pat Carey on guitar and his 20-year old son, Ron Carey, on lead vocal, sold 1.5 million copies by November of 2000. By that time the Baha Men were a welcome attraction in the United States, both in live performance and on tape.
Prior to their success in the United States, the Baha Men had already released several albums that achieved platinum sales levels in Japan, and they had proven themselves to be an excellent concert draw in that country as well. In their native Bahamas, the national tourism agency picked up the Baha Men's single track, "Back to the Islands" from 1998, as a background for Bahaman tourism commercials, and the group appeared with American pop group Hanson on a United States tour that included the Hollywood Bowl in California.
An aggressive marketing program geared to United States sports teams on the part of S-Curve proved highly effective in promoting "Who Let the Dogs Out." The song's popularity soared again when a player for the Seattle Mariners baseball club used the song as a personal theme whenever he approached the plate to bat. Before long, the entire squad of Mariner batters had latched onto the catchy song and funky lyrics. Ultimately, in September of 2000, the Baha Men made an appearance at Seattle's Safeco field at the invitation of the club. Similarly, they made an appearance at San Francisco's Pacbell Park for the Giants. On the East Coast, at the request of the New York Mets, Baha Men recorded a parody of the song expressly for that ball club. Other professional teams that used the song to invigorate players before ball games included the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. Baha Men, complete with whistles, cow bells, heavy drum beats, and the entire upbeat junkanoo cacophony, performed live at four world series games that year. Likewise, an untold number of amateur and school sports teams adopted the catchy tune as a spirited fight song.
On a United States promotional tour, the group appeared on Live with Regis & Kathie Lee,and participated in the Central Park Summerstage program in New York City. The initial tour was followed by a concert tour in the fall of 2000. Baha Men were later scheduled as the opening act for an 'N Sync tour, and cable television's Nickelodeon channel made a special program about the band.
by Gloria Cooksey
Baha Men's Career
Performed as High Voltage, 1977; signed with Atlantic Records, 1991; signed with S-Curve Records, 1999.
- Selected discography
- "Back to the Island," Big Beat, 1992.
- "Oh Father," Artemis, 1994.
- "Dancing in the Moonlight," Atlantic, 1994.
- "That's the Way I Get Down," Polygram, 1997.
- "Who Let the Dogs Out," S-Curve, 1999.
- "You All Dat," S-Curve, 2001.
- Junkanoo Big Beat/Atlantic, 1992.
- Kalik Big Beat/Atlantic, 1994.
- I Like What I Like Polygram/Mercury, 1997.
- Doong Spank Polygram/Mercury, 1998.
- Who Let the Dogs Out Artemis/S-Curve, 1999.
- Best of Baha Men Artemis/S-Curve, 2000.
- Billboard,May 24, 1997, p. 33; July 19, 1997, p. 87.
- Entertainment Weekly, November 10, 2000, p. 17.
- People, November 6, 2000, p. 23.
- Sports Illustrated,September 25, 2000, p. 30.
- Time, October 30, 2000, p. 92.
- "Artemis Records--Baha Men," http://www.artemisrecords.com/bahamen_bio.asp (January 18, 2001).
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