The Click: Toots & the Maytals
In his own words, Toots Hibbert remembers how a childhood spent singing in church launched his 40-year-strong career.
I grew up in the church. Ever since I was a little baby, I would be there every week, no matter what, because both my parents were preachers. Thanks to this I developed an interest in music. I started singing in our church when I was about 12 years old. Everyone told me I had the “voice of an angel”, so I sang and sang in my father’s church, almost every day. The more I did it, the more I liked it.
Around the same time I started writing poems in school because I didn’t like studying. My classmates used to read my poems and share them around the room and sometimes I’d get in trouble. I had this deep love for words, so it was easy for me to translate that passion into writing songs and telling stories with music. The first song I ever wrote was when I was 17, and it was a song called Hallelujah – it’s a gospel song in Jamaican ska’s fast tempo. After that I became obsessed with listening to Elvis Presley, James Brown, Little Richard and all of the great classic rock ‘n’ roll singers, and everyone who would hear me sing their songs used to tell me, “You’re going to be a famous singer one day, man!” It made me feel so confident that I decided to start making music seriously from then on. Now there’s nothing I love more than to go up there and sing in front of my people.
Got to Be Tough is out now via Trojan Jamaica/BMG