Music worth waiting for
Mr Duke released his single Thief in the Vineyard after leaving it on the back burner for more than 20 years. Seven years later, he is putting out his first album No Partiality.
“It's taken me another seven years because of the trials and tribulations,” said the singer, who was born Dwayne Burrows. “It's life. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
“I'd rather take time and do it right than race it just to say I've done it.”
That first song, he says, is a metaphor: your true friends are like diamonds, precious but rare, but your false ones are like autumn leaves, falling everywhere.
“People can steal your mind, your heart,” he explained. “They're stealing something, but they can't get away. They're a thief in the vineyard.”
It's not unusual for Mr Duke to speak in parables but he insists that anyone who listens to his lyrics will “know that my album has substance. I have something to say”.
Vineyard was well received. The hit travelled to South Africa and Savannah, Georgia — places the songwriter “didn't think it would go”.
“Australia, Jamaica — they loved it. I didn't think it would do that well, but it had a good story,” he said.
The song was recorded at Ed Robinson's studio in Brooklyn, New York, in 2009, but he wrote it in 1983.
He started out with bandmates “Culture”, “Pieza”, “Drummie”, “Natty” and “Basey”, playing as Third and Fourth Generation — that same year the band won the Clayhouse trophy.
Those lifelong connections helped him to produce his album.
“The same guy I used to emulate — Ansel Cridland from Meditations Music — he's the one who produced my first single and now my album,” he said.
They finished recording at Steel Pulse's Studio in Brooklyn and Beres Hammond's Studio in Miami last year, but he says he does not regret of how long it took to come to fruition.
“With music you never know, sometimes it comes out at the right time,” he said.
Mr Duke offers a clip of his song as proof: “Jah-Jah see them a coming, yeah, 'cause they a thief in the vineyard. They can't get away, 'cause they be robbing and killing and looting and shooting ...”
“What's happening now? I wrote it then and look what's happening now,” he said. “It seems like the prophecy's fulfilling itself. It's bigger than me.”
The last song on the album is inspired by his son, Keilo Govia; he raised him on his own after Keilo's mother, Robin Govia, passed away.
What You Gonna Do About Love is a song about family.
He describes his grandchildren as “my heart”.
“In life, what you put in is what you get out. No one's perfect in life, but what I put into my son I see in those children,” he said.
His own father died when he was 3 and he credits his grandmother, Margaret Burrows, for his faith.
“I come from a good family. My grandmother grew me with morals and respect. She taught me well,” he said.
“If you keep your faith in the Lord, things will come your way.
“I stuck to my guns and got it done.”
By day he does painting and cedar work for high-profile clients such as Ross Perot. He has just finished restoring the stocks and town hall doors in King's Square in St George.
“I like to see a good thing come together,” he said. “You're seeing an old broken-down piece of cedar and then when your hands touch it, you give it life again.
“I found my niche in being able to work with my hands.
“My cedar work is top-notch. I'm not tooting my horn — people tell me, so I can tell you. Mr Duke is more than just a singer.”
He already has another album planned. If No Partiality is a “listening” album, his next will be a “dancehall album”.
“I'm like a Rolodex. I've got a whole album in my head,” he said. “Now this is done — this is out of my head.”
No Partiality can be purchased at Music Box, It's All Natural and Eru At'ile on Court Street.