Teenager Kairo McLean created history after winning the JUNO Award in the Reggae Recording of the Year category. He became the youngest ever to win the award at just 13-years old. The ceremony was held last Saturday, May 14.
It is a remarkable achievement, especially considering that the JUNO Awards are Canada’s unofficial Grammys. The young deejay won the award with his four-song EP titled Easy Now. The Jamaica Observer spoke with the young star about the achievement of becoming the youngest person to win the award in the show’s 47 years of history.
McLean shared that it was a great feeling to win the award and that he was most excited by the fact that his music was getting such recognition at such an early stage in his career. He added that he believes he was guided by his ancestors and he relies on them when it comes to making music.
The album, Easy Now was produced by Tim Dubs and released in April 2021. He beat out an impressive list of nominees that included Herb Dream by Blessed, By Any Means by Exco Levi, Don’t Let it Get to You by Josemar, and Too Ruff by Kirk Diamond and Finn.
He also said that he was over the moon when he heard his name announced as the winner. The “Rebel” singer described the moment as complete and utter excitement. He said he immediately jumped up and went on stage to accept the award. Following his time on stage, he said he was taken backstage where he did some interviews, something that he also described as a great feeling.
The young singer is a student at Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Catholic elementary school in Scarborough, Ontario and his father is Jamaican, while his mother is Canadian-Jamaican. He also shared that a lot of hard work went into the EP and that he spent many nights reviewing and writing lyrics and listening to the songs repeatedly to see what worked.
While it was fun, he noted that it was a lot of hard work to ensure a fantastic finished product. Mclean also thanked his family for their constant support of his musical career.
“I’d like to start by thanking his Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I the first, Jah Rastafari and my parents. I love you mom, I love you dad, Shanice, Alicia, yeah man. Kirk Diamond and Exco and everyone else who has helped me along the way, thank you. It’s an honour,” he said at the time.
At the early age of just two-years-old McLean began to show an affinity for music. According to reports, by the time he was three years old, he had already started to play the drums. Two years later, he moved onto the acoustic guitar, and by the time he was six, he had already begun singing and performing at festivals.
He also revealed that he is inspired by the greats, many of whom are considered the foundation of reggae. Some of the mentors that he chose include Peter Tosh, Dennis Brown, and Gregory Isaacs. Fans can look out for his full-length debut album 13, which he revealed has seven tracks.