To say that Garnet Silk’s career was tragically short and enormously influential is an understatement. Born Garnet Damion Smith, he first recorded briefly as the emcee Bimbo in the 1980s, with fewer than 10 recordings under that name. Rebranded Garnet Silk, between 1990 and 1994, the young singer pushed back against a wave of ‘slackness’ that had all but sidelined traditional reggae by the beginning of the decade.
King Jammy produced his breakout single “Fill Us Up With Your Mercy” in 1990. His first single on VP was “Zion In A Vision” on the Gold Disc label. Silk showed that cultural lyrics could still rule the dancehall and helped to bring some of the genre’s hardest emcees toward a new spirituality, Buju Banton and Capleton chief among them. The only LPs to be released during his lifetime came on VP, the Bobby Digital production It’s Growing in 1992 and the Steely & Cleeve production Love Is The Answer in 1994. Posthumous albums on VP included Silky Mood, a King Jammy production and Nothing Can Divide Us, a Courtney Cole production from 1995, and the compilation Journey in 1998.
Silk died in a tragic fire in Mandeville in December 1994, cutting short the life of one of reggae’s most promising artists.