He came into this world on 26 July 1972 in Buff Bay, Portland, Jamaica and was christened Von Wayne Charles. His vocal skills were nurtured singing in Sunday school and was encouraged by his mother who sang at the same church. During his formative years, Wayne's family settled in Rae Town, where after church the young singer first experienced the excitement of the regular Sunday night dancehall sessions. His exposure to the popular revival selection, which also featured a little R&B, inspired him to perform in a lover's rock style on digital beats. His original vocal approach to these contemporary rhythms ensured his status in the dancehall arena.
Due to his unrivalled acumen as a singer, his schoolmates gave him the nickname of Wayne Wonder, a title he duly adopted for his stage persona. Wayne's dancehall debut was on the Metro Media Sound System based in Allman Town and the quality of his performance led to a regular Wednesday night spot and an audition at Sonic Sounds with Sly Dunbar. While the singer passed his audition, the drummer/producer was unable to offer the singer any work owing to his international commitments. But Wayne was not down for long. Following an introduction through the singer Colin Roach, his first recording session resulted in the release of 'Long And Lasting Love', produced by the legendary Osborne 'King Tubby' Ruddock. It was with King Tubby that Wayne covered Rick Astley's Pop hit, 'Never Gonna Give You Up', his first notable hit. Sadly his success with the song was marred when the producer was fatally shot in an attempted robbery.
Following a suitable period of mourning, Wayne linked up with Lloyd 'Pickout' Dennis. His first success came with the hit 'Girl It's Over Now', in a ragga/rap style. The song was performed on the original rhythm of Ninjaman and Tinga Stewart's version of the Percy Sledge hit, 'Cover Me'. In addition to performing on the 'Cover Me' rhythm, Wayne also rode an updated version of 'My Conversation' in fine style on the rootical 'It's Been So Long' as well as the `Punaany' riddim for 'Don't Lose Your Way'. If you listen closely to the latter you might recognise the lyrics as they came from the soundtrack to the Land Before Time. The song was originally recorded by Diana Ross as 'If We Hold On Together' and through Wayne's version, the Motown Diva was assured a rejuvenated credibility. The young Jamaican singer also applied the same formula to Air Supply's bonny US chartbuster, '(Making Love) Out Of Nothing At All', which in true Jamaican fashion was re-titled 'I Just Know How To Love You'.
It was while with Lloyd that Wayne recorded 'One More Chance', which was also selected as the title of his album debut. The collection later provided a number of tracks for the hugely popular Cactus compilation, 'Essential', released when the producer licensed the set to Creole in the UK. The album featured both cover versions and originals, including the hit single 'You, Me And She', which narrated the dilemma of balancing loyalties between lovers and wives! Also featured were fine versions of the Michael Jackson classic, 'She's Out Of My Life', Alphaville's 'Forever Young', Judy Boucher's 'New Way To Say I Love You' and a wicked hip-hop/rap combination covering Rockwell's Motown hit, 'Somebody's Watching Me'.
Additionally included was the singer's version of Whitney Houston's 'Where Do Broken Hearts Go' that inspired Lloyd to recruit the DJ Major Oney to ride the rhythm for the bashment favourite, 'Come Mi Darling'. The Major's vocal technique was particularly popular at the time with artists such as Terror Fabulous, Mega Banton and the aforementioned Buju Banton adopting the style. In fact Wayne is often accredited with having introduced Buju's unique performance to the international stage and moreover the singer may well have been inspired to carry the DJ to the famed Penthouse studios, following the success of his combination with Major Oney. However, before the start of that celebrated partnership, Wayne enjoyed further reggae chartbusters as a soloist including a version of Al. B. Sure's 'Night And Day' and a sublime adaptation of Monica's classic 'Don't Take It Personal (Just One Of Dem Days)', both of which were produced by Soljie who had by then served his apprenticeship as an engineer.
At the start of the nineties, Wayne renewed his acquaintance with the up and coming Dave Kelly who was an old school friend. At this time Dave, like Soljie was a resident engineer who worked at Donovan Germain's previously mentioned Penthouse Recording Studio. It was here that the former students were joined by Buju and fashioned that legendary combination. In 1991 Wayne recorded a version of Errol Dunkley's classic, 'Movie Star' that was originally a cover of Delroy Wilson's 'I Don't Know Why'. The song later provided the foundation to the wicked 'Bonafide Love', recorded in combination with Buju, and which is widely regarded as the start of their celebrated partnership. A series of combinations followed, including our featured track, the suitably titled, (albeit succinct), 'The Ruler' recorded at a time when their sessions however incomplete were blessed with a Midas touch.
The Penthouse Studio had unleashed a series of hits with dancehall artists such as Tenor Saw and Tony Rebel, while also enjoying pop chart success with Freddie MacGregor ('Just Don't Want To Be Lonely') and Audrey Hall ('One Dance Just Won't Do'). The studios' unprecedented success continued with Donovan Germain and Dave Kelly sharing the producer's chair and their number one status continued when they signed Wayne, who as a result saw his career go into overdrive. His Penthouse sessions resulted in such hits as 'I'm Only Human', 'Baby You And I' and 'The Saddest Day' - the latter of which was re-recorded at the famed New York Electric Lady Land studio in combination with the hip-hop diva, Foxy Brown, and features on her Def Jam album 'Broken Silence'.
Meanwhile, Wayne enjoyed a series of hits dubbing up versions of PM Dawn's 'I'd Die Without You' (which was also covered by Baba B., the singer who originally performed our featured track 'If You Are Not Here') and En Vogue's 'Hold On'.
By 1992, Wayne toured as part of an acclaimed Penthouse showcase alongside Marcia Griffiths, Tony Rebel and Buju, amid a certain amount of controversy concerning the notorious 'Boom Bye Bye'. Riding the storm caused by Buju's song, the tour was a success (in spite of being dropped from the WOMAD line-up) and inspired Wayne to concentrate on recording original material. Since this time, the singer has been recognised for originality, although his covers in this writers opinion were quite unique and not just 'do-overs'.
In addition to writing his own songs, Wayne has co-written hits for other artists. This unsurprisingly included Buju Banton whose 'Deportees (Things Change)' was lifted from the DJ's major label debut, 'Voice Of Jamaica' and proved a particularly popular hit in the dance. However, as Buju's reputation advanced, the duo drifted apart and concentrated on solo projects. They have since pursued individual careers following an acclaimed farewell appearance at the 'Peace & Love Reggae Festival', alongside artists such as Capleton and Luciano.
Curiously, at the same time Dave Kelly decided to leave Penthouse and, with Wayne, the duo continued their successful musical relationship through the engineer turned producer's Madhouse and Xtra Large labels. Wayne recorded a successful run of hits for Madhouse including 'Joyride' and 'Bashment Gal'. He released the album, 'Da Vibe' through the New York based 'Artist's Only' organisation that were behind his re-recording of the aforementioned hit with Foxy Brown. The album also featured 'Let Your Conscience Set You Free', the song where Wayne introduced his alter ego the DJ Surprise, although he had recorded 'Mek You So Hot' for Stumpy under this guise. That song was sometimes credited to the 'Alias Crew' and led to rumours regarding Wayne's sexuality - this was because when Wayne sang 'Wow Yeah' it sounded; as though he was singing 'I'm Gay'! This inspired the singer to respond with 'Snitches And Spies' that asserted that the lyrics were misunderstood.
These songs, including 'Joyride' and 'Bashment Gal', alongside 'Blazing', 'Watching' and 'Ready To Ride' resulted in the album's widespread appeal and his continued association with Artist's Only. This led to another hip-hop alliance when he spiced up a performance with the late lamented crazy sexy cool Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopez, who branched out from her work with TLC. Wayne also released his second album for the organisation, 'Schizophrenic', which featured further hip-hop reggae fusions in tracks such as 'Platinum Mall', 'Makes Me Wonder', 'Easily Change' and 'Mr. Man'.
Demonstrating an independent stance, Wayne launched his own record label branded 'Sing So'. Having introduced the label, he produced and released singles by several leading dancehall artists, including the duo, Tanto Metro & Devonte. Other artists included the hugely popular Baby Cham, alongside Alley Cat, Mr. Easy and Frankie Sly. His first success came with a series of hits on the 'Ambush' rhythm, including, Baby Cham's 'War Forever' and Mr. Easy's 'Playa Playa'. The singer, Devonte, who was influenced by Wayne when had been a part of the Mad House Crew, also benefited from the 'Ambush' rhythm when Sing So released the duo's 'Dancehall Vibes (The Beat Goes On)', which subsequently featured on the pair's album debut named after their collaboration with Wayne.
In 2002, the producer Steve 'Lenky' Marsden unleashed the Diwali rhythm named after the Hindu festival of lights. The producer relished a series of hits on his infectious hand clapping rhythm including Chrissy D's 'Make It Real Good' and Bounty Killa's 'Sufferer', but the greatest success came with Wayne's 'No Letting Go', a track that introduced both the singer and the rhythm to a global audience. Wayne's success led Sean Paul to ride the rhythm for his 2003 release, 'Get Busy' and Lumidee to utilise the beats for his hot R&B hit, 'Never Leave You'.
Wayne's triumph with `No Letting Go' was followed by the release of his second chart hit, 'Bounce Along', a song that he had originally recorded in 1999 with Spragga Benz, who also joined the singer with Buju on the aforementioned 'The Ruler'. Both songs featured in a unique joint venture between Atlantic and VP records, who released the album 'No Holding Back', which also crossed over into the BBC's official UK album chart. During the recording of the album, Wayne set up the Entourage Project, which consisted of Wayne and his alter ego, Surprise, alongside the newcomers, Showki Ru and Demo Delgado. The project was introduced on the album through the track, 'Metal And Steel' and proved that they were ready to infiltrate the Billboard Hot 100. Throughout the set, Wayne performed in an R&B/hip-hop style that also included a wicked urban combination with the DJ of the moment Elephant Man who joined him on, 'Crazy Feeling.'
Since that time Wayne's vocals have led to him being hailed as 'Jamaica's Usher'. The comparison was suggested due to the similarity of his rhythmic tenor on synthesized beats, although, quite rightly, he is widely regarded on his own merit. These qualities resulted in a series of compilations curiously including the best-selling 'Grey Skies To Blue', which was basically a re-working of his 'You Me And She' retrospective, repackaged and aimed at his new hip-hop fan base.