Get to know 2022 Reggae Recording of the Year nominee, Kairo McLean in our “7 Questions With” series where we speak with first-time JUNO Award nominees from all genres.
13-year-old Kairo McLean is a scholar of Reggae music. His father Garvin is Jamaican and his mother Kim is Canadian of Jamaican descent. When Kairo was 2 years old he began to show an interest in music and by the time he was 3 he was already playing drums. At 5 he picked up the acoustic guitar and by 6 he was already singing and performing at festivals. To call this child a natural would be an understatement.
Kairo is deeply familiar with all the artists in the genre, past records, musicians, producers and sound systems, details that only the most studied connoisseur of reggae would know. When it comes to his own compositions, Kairo is as “old school” as it gets, drawing influence from Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown and Gregory Isaacs. This 13 year old artist knows the tradition, studied the history and has developed his own sound and style.
How did it feel to be nominated for a JUNO?
It feels good to be nominated. I am happy to know that my message of peace, acceptance and love got out and is recognized as the truth.
Which album made you want to become a working musician?
The album that made me want to become a working musician….. the truth is there isn’t really a particular album although songs like “ Exodus & War” influenced me. But in-terms of artists who influenced me the list is long.
What are 3 items you require when you’re on-tour?
My guitar, my Mom & Dad and a bottle of water, because I get really thirsty.
What do you think is the best song you’ve ever released? What’s the story behind it?
My best song is what the people like the most. My favourite song however is “Rise Again” it’s my favourite because my dad and I worked on it together.
Which artist(s) would you like to collaborate with most?
If I had the opportunity to collaborate with some of my favourite artists, I’d have to pick Yellow Man, Chronixx and Big Youth.
Tell me about your favorite performance in your career.
The show that I’m most proud of is Zaagindiwin/ Luminato 2021 show. That show was all right up my alley dealing with the Global Pandemic, Climate change and racial injustice.
What’s next for you?
Well, I keep hearing about how exciting touring is, so touring. I’ve read a lot of books on Africa and History books of Europe so my final answer is I’d like to sing my songs all around the world.
Tickets for The 2022 JUNO Awards are on sale now! Don’t miss out on an unforgettable night of Canadian music hosted by Simu Liu on May 15th.