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Tarrus Riley Biography

Tarrus Riley Biography

Tarrus Riley (born Omar Riley, 26 April 1979, Bronx, New York, United States is a Jamaican reggae singer, member of the Rastafari movement and the son of Jamaican reggae singer Jimmy Riley.[1]


Tarrus Riley
Summerjam 20130705 Tarrus Riley DSC 0523 by Emha.jpg

Tarrus Riley at the Summerjam Festival 2013
Background information
Birth name Omar Riley
Born (1979-04-26) 26 April 1979 (age 35) Bronx, New York, United States
Origin Kingston, Jamaica
Genres Reggae
Instruments Vocalist, Guitar
Years active 2005–present
Labels VP, Cannon Productions
Website tarrusriley.com




Performing at Negril Escape, 2009

Riley was born in Bronx, New York and raised in Jamaica. His father is veteran reggae singer Jimmy Riley. He made his recording debut as a teenager. In 2004, Tarrus released his debut album, Challenges. Riley has consistently racked up awards for his work. Among his accolades are Best Singer, Male Vocalist, Cultural Artiste, Song of the Year, and Best Song. Some of the awards institutions which have rewarded Riley include the Youth View Awards, The Star People’s Choice Awards, EME Awards, and the Reggae Academy awards. Tarrus is the holder of Jamaica’s CVM TV’s 15th Anniversary Award, held in February 2009, for the ‘Most Admired Song in the Past 15 Years’ for the hit, “She’s Royal”.

In 2009 Riley released his third opus Contagious on Cannon Production. The album was distributed by VP Records. It contained the hits Start Anew, Contagious, Good Girl Gone Bad featuring Konshens and Superman, a cover of a Robin Thicke original.2010 saw the release of the chart topper Protect the People, which scaled several charts in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. Early 2011 saw the release of the Black History themed Shaka Zulu Pickney which was featured on the Nyabingi rhythm from Bombrush Music. The video for the song which was directed by Storm Saulter was well received upon its release. His interest in educating the youth about Black History resulted in the Tarrus Riley Freedom Writers Competition, which ran on Jamaica’s Irie FM radio station.

2011 also saw the release of videos for hit singles including Come Ova and Never leave I. Both songs have become anthems on Jamaican radio as well as in several Caribbean territories. Riley has performed on several stages around the world. His performances have drawn credible reviews from the media in the Caribbean, North America, the United States and Europe.

Riley tours Europe once each year, performing on the major reggae festivals in several European countries. Riley’s most recent high profile performances include the 2011 Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival and Roskilde Festival 2011 in Denmark, Reggae Sumfest 2010, Betty Wright and Friends in concert in Jamaica, and the Palmyra Foundation’s Fundraising event. He also headlined the Hennessey Artistry show in Barbados in December 2011.

Among his accolades in 2011 were the EME Awards (Excellence in Music and Entertainment) for Vocalist of the Year Male and Cultural Artiste of the Year. Riley also copped the 2011 Youth View Award for Cultural Artiste of the Year.

Riley released the acoustic album Mecoustic in 2012 and toured Europe in support of it with his Blak Soil band.[2]

He worked with saxophonist and producer Dean Fraser on his 2014 album Love Situation, which he described as “a true tribute to the rocksteady era”, and features guest appearances from U-Roy, Big Youth, Konshens and Mr. Cheeks.[3][4] The album gave him his first number one placing on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in February 2014.[5]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2007 – Jamaica Observer Artiste of the Year[6]
  • 2008 – Excellence in Music & Entertainment (EME) Awards – Cultural Artiste of the Year (nominated), Male Vocalist of Year Award, Song of The Year (“She’s Royal”)[7]
  • 2008 – Reggae Academy Awards – Best Reggae Song, Most Popular Song (both for “She’s Royal”), Best Solo Male Vocal Performance, Breakthrough Reggae Artiste[8]
  • 2009 – Caribbean-American Heritage Awards – Reggae Runnins Caribbean Heritage Award
  • 2009 – MOBO Awards – Best Reggae (nominated)
  • 2009 – Soul Train Music Awards – Best Reggae Artist (nominated)
  • 2011 – (EME- Excellence in Music and Entertainment (Jamaica)- Cultural Artiste of the Year and Vocalist of the Year (Male)
  • 2011 – Youth View Awards (YVA’s) – Cultural Artiste of the Year
  • 2011 – UNIA Marcus Garvey Award – For Contribution of Music
  • 2014 – MOBO Awards – Best Reggae Act (nominated).[9]


  • Challenges (2004), VP
  • Parables (2006), VP
  • Contagious (2009), VP
  • Mecoustic (2012), VP
  • To the Limit (2013)[10]
  • Love Situation (2014), Zojak World Wide


  1. Jump up ^ Kenner, Rob (2009) “Reggae Singer With a Legacy, a Following and a Mission“, New York Times, 21 August 2009, retrieved 31 August 2009
  2. Jump up ^Riley’s European Love Affair Grows – Artiste Happy With Response To New Album“, Jamaica Gleaner, 1 May 2012, retrieved 2012-05-01
  3. Jump up ^ Bonitto, Brian (2014) “Tarrus salutes Rock Steady“, Jamaica Observer, 19 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014
  4. Jump up ^ Campbell, Howard (2014) “Tarrus walks down memory lane“, Jamaica Observer, 5 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014
  5. Jump up ^Riley’s Love Situation tops Billboard“, Jamaica Observer, 14 February 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014
  6. Jump up ^ Walters, Basil (2007) “Tarrus Riley: ‘The sky is not the limit, it’s too close’“, Jamaica Observer, 11 January 2008, retrieved 31 August 2009
  7. Jump up ^QUEEN IFRICA Singjay of the year“, Jamaica Observer, 10 February 2008, retrieved 31 August 2009
  8. Jump up ^Royal treatment for Tarrus Riley at Reggae Academy Awards“, Jamaica Gleaner, 26 February 2008, retrieved 31 August 2009
  9. Jump up ^ Jackson, Kevin (2014) “5 For MOBO Reggae“, Jamaica Observer, 24 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014
  10. Jump up ^ http://www.davibejamaica.com/2266-tarrus-riley-feat-fantastik-to-the-limit

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