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Thu, 04.01.1948

Jimmy Cliff, Ska, and Reggae Singer born

Jimmy Cliff

*Jimmy Cliff was born on this date in 1948.  He is a Black Jamaican ska and reggae musician, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and actor. 

Born James Chambers, he is from the Somerton District, Saint James, Jamaica. While still at primary school in St. James, he began writing songs and listening to a neighbor’s sound system. In 1962 his father took him to Kingston to go to Kingston Technical school, where he ended up sharing his cousin's rented room in East Kingston.  Along with Bunny Wailer, he is one of the few musicians to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honor of the Jamaican government for achievements in the arts and sciences. 

Cliff is best known among mainstream audiences for songs such as "Wonderful World, Beautiful People," "Many Rivers to Cross," "You Can Get It If You Really Want," "The Harder They Come, "Reggae Night," and "Hakuna Matata," and his covers of Cat Stevens's "Wild World" and Johnny Nash's "I Can See Clearly Now" from the film Cool Runnings. He starred in the film The Harder They Come, which helped popularize reggae worldwide, and Club Paradise. Cliff was one of five performers inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.  Cliff is not a member of the Rastafari movement, although he briefly was before converting to Islam from Christianity.  

He now describes himself as having a "universal outlook on life” and does not align with any particular movement or religion, saying, "now I believe in science."  He is married and has a daughter Lilty Cliff and a son Aken Cliff.  He is also the father of the actress/singer Nabiyah Be.   On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Jimmy Cliff among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.  

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