“I have always been an entertainer at heart.”
These are the words of progressive reggae musician, Stuart Wilson, who only a few years ago was a successful journalist working in the Cayman Islands. Now, he is making waves in the music industry on a global scale, and spends most of his time in Jamaica – the island of his roots – writing and performing his own unique style of reggae fusion music, which includes hints of rock, jazz, and more recently, classical blues.
How it all began
After spending 10 years as a journalist, Wilson decided to leave his already established career behind, embarking on an ambitious endeavor in the music industry. It did not take him long to find his footing, and he has already released a debut album, “Holding the Fort,” accompanied by numerous opening performances alongside some of the industry’s most talented artists. Names like John Legend, Damian Marley, and Roberta Flack are not unfamiliar to Wilson – he has been the opening act for all of them.
Although Wilson enjoyed his career as a journalist, he felt that music offered him something more fulfilling.
“[In journalism] the end of a story happens where the writing ends,” he says. “With music, however, the writing is where the story begins.”
It is clear that despite his love for journalism, his true passion lies with music. “I believe that music is a spiritual calling,” he said
, explaining that given his musical ability, he couldn’t say no to a career in the industry.
What music means to him
Not only is music an inspiration to Wilson, but it’s also a necessity in his life, like a keystone. He says music is an integral component of most, if not everyone’s life. To the average person, music can be a source of enjoyment that can be connected to on an emotional level, but to someone like Wilson, it means so much more.
He is a firm believer not only in the spiritual and emotional impacts of music, but also the scientific aspect. To him, music is a mystery that cannot and will not be understood. Wilson says it is that eternal mysticism that partly draws him to it so strongly.
Naturally, Wilson’s passion for music is reflected in the work he creates, but the reggae artist says that music writes itself. “We take credit for our songs, as song writers, but the music already exists in the ether of the universe,” he says, drawing comparisons between song writing and tuning into your favorite radio station and then broadcasting it to the world.
He describes himself as a vessel as the energies of the universe flow through him and into the world as music.
Life as a musician
Wilson has enjoyed reasonable success as a professional musician, and has even completed a tour of Thailand, but success has not come without its sacrifices. He chooses to spend most of his time in Jamaica, away from his Cayman home, where the music scene is generally more fruitful. To many musicians in the Cayman Islands, performing and creating music is limited to being a hobby or a second job.
“I spend the bulk of my time in Jamaica now,” he said, “where the musicians are not moonlighting, but instead have a plan to either make music their career and livelihood, or starve to death and die.”
Surrounding himself with people who possess that kind of commitment to doing what they love and making a life out of it was a real eye-opener for Wilson. He firmly believes that true commitment to your work will guide you to success. “If you love it, you will be successful; if you don’t, you won’t last very long when the going gets tough,” he says.
Wilson is still very much involved in the Caymanian community, however. Most notably, he works with the Cayman Music Collective in an advisory role and helping them with their publications. He has also played at two Cayman Islands Jazz Festivals, and his music is on sale in local supermarkets.
He has returned to Cayman this week to perform on Friday alongside fellow reggae artist Nesbeth at Coe Wood Beach in Bodden Town.
Wilson calls Cayman a “charming island,” and relishes every opportunity to return home, enjoying nothing more than being able to see his family and girlfriend. At the forefront of his ambition is being the best person he can be for his family and friends:
“My future ambitions are to continue to evolve into a more conscious, loving, compassionate and authentic human being,” he says. On top of that, Wilson is fully invested in taking care of his country, and ultimately, he says, the world.
His aspirations extend to his musical career as well, and his sights are set on something more difficult to achieve. “I want to be one of the greatest musicians to ever live,” he says, which may initially sound like a shallow statement, but is actually quite insightful. He explains that he doesn’t necessarily measure this by monetary success, but rather by the quality of his music and the extent of its influence on other people. He hopes his new music, on which he is working with famous musicians such as Jimmy Cliff and Clive Hunt, reaches a larger audience around the globe, amplifying its influence.
Wilson also expressed his desire for his music to leave a positive impression on people. “I hope my music helps to make people happier, to improve people’s heart rates and blood pressure via rhythm and tempo.”
He has strong faith in the therapeutic benefits of music, and emphasizes its ability to affect people in a spiritual way, as well as medically. He also wants people to be reminded of how musicians were perceived as healers in ancient cultures, and that listening to music was thought to have carried various health benefits, especially with concern for mood and emotion.
It is clear that no matter the walk of life, whether it be through music or his dedication to his family and home nation, Wilson wants his actions to have a positive impact on the world; something that would be a fitting legacy for someone whose idea of success is not measured by monetary gain, but instead, his ability to positively influence the lives of others.
You can find Stuart Wilson on Spotify and Apple Music, or visit his website at www.stuartwilsonmusic.com.