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YouTube Gold: Yellowman

A tough life never kept him from his dreams

Yellowman & Dillinger Perform At District In Liverpool
 LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 01: Dillinger performs on stage at District on March 1, 2014 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.
Photo by Richard Martin-Roberts/Redferns via Getty Images

Yellowman, aka Winston Foster, is a Jamaican musician who has had a very tough life but who still built a significant career toasting and singing reggae.

He was abandoned at birth by his parents who weren’t willing to bring home an albino child which was not accepted in Jamaica in the 1950s. He was raised in a Catholic orphanage.

He started toasting on the radio and people loved it. By the time came out in public he was such a sensation that no one cared that he was an albino.

He was diagnosed with skin cancer at the age of 26 and sadly it spread into his jaw. He had to have much of it removed and his face did not and cannot recover from the operation.

But he has a lot of heart and has continued to perform and has evolved as an artist.

His early work featured a lot of sexual boasting and bravado but later he began embrace social themes and to work against violence.

In many ways you can see his religious upbringing coming out later in life.

This video has some NSFW language and some of it may be beyond that. It’s live and it’s a bit hard to understand all of what he’s saying because he has a strong Kingston accent. So just be aware of that when you hit the link.

His greatest song though was a cover of Frankie Ford’s Sea Cruise. It is a timeless, swaying version of Ford’s more frenetic original, evoking warm, pleasant weather and, as they say on the Outer Banks, Island time. And that means you don’t pay much attention to time. If you stay long enough, you don’t know what day of the week it is.

Here’s the original for comparison purposes and a bit of New Orleans style music from the late 1950’s.