Baha Men has earned the only Grammy Award for the Bahamas. The energetic and pop culture influence used in their music, dress, and personalities has made a definite impression the world over. The long journey to stardom began in 1977 according to leader Isaiah Taylor. The band was known then as "High Voltage", and they played the local club scene in Nassau for the remainder of the 70's the 80's and into the 90's.
High Voltage then was known for defining the popular stage sound of junkanoo festival music of the Bahamas. In addition, they were regularly featured in Atlantic City, New Jersey where they presented exciting Bahamian reviews featuring Marvin Henfield and, Abigail Charlow, and other fine Bahamian vocalists. This long journey would not have been possible without the alliance between Tyrone " Dr. Offfff" Fitzgerald in the late seventies. Dr. Offfff was one of the pioneers in shaping the music of junkanoo outside of the festival where it was traditionally performed. Isaiah and Dr. Offfff collaborated on several projects, which enhanced the passion that Isaiah had for junkanoo music, which started the development of this unique sound.
High Voltage - 1970's
Although the membership changed over the years, the driving force behind the band is its leader Isaiah Taylor, drummer - Colyn "Moe" Grant, and guitarist - Herschel Small, who were there from the early days. Pat Carey, one of the original members, only recently returned to fill the void left by guitarist Fred Ferguson, who had also served as the group’s music director. The other members of the group include Jeffrey Chea (vocals, keyboards); Anthony "Monks" Flowers, formerly of the T-Connection (vocals, percussion); Rick Carey (vocals), and their newest members, Leroy Butler (vocals, rap vocals), and Ryan Andrews (vocals). The group’s success is no doubt a testament to Isaiah's strict work ethic. His vision has apparently gained the support of his team of musicians.
Baha Men has won many awards both at home and abroad. These awards include best recording artists, most popular song, best performing group, best junkanoo sound, best album, and best video production. Baha Men has been on labels such as Atlantis, Mercury, and Toy Factory out of Japan.
High Voltage - Atlantic City (1980's)
Another important aspect of the group’s success lies in the fact that typically, Bahamian bands do not have managers. In a small community such as the Bahamas, bandleaders wear many caps - music director, booking agent, manager, etc. Baha Men, in stepping outside of the Bahamas, has proved that a management team that both understands the business and is worthy of trust is the key to any measure of success. One strategy considered to be extremely wise on the part of the group’s management is its involving Baha Men in many hit motion pictures such as "Shrek" and "My Father The Hero". This strategy no doubt will speak volumes in terms of preserving the name of the band. For generations to come, the only Grammy award-winning group will live on not only on popular radio, but also in the ears and eyes of moviegoers all over the world.
It is believed in many circles that the popularity of this Bahamian band, especially in America, could only have happened with the “commercialization” of their sound. "In the United States you're not going to get on the radio playing raw junkanoo" (Taylor, 2004). Although some have disagreed with this strategy, it remains the responsibility of the artists to determine the balance of the Bahamian sound that is to be injected into such fusion. What cannot be disputed is the contribution of this band as musical ambassadors of The Bahamas. The value of having the brand "Bahamas" wherever they perform is definitely a benefit to our music and tourism industry.
Speaking with Isaiah in the summer of 2004, it would appear that there are great things in the making for our Baha Men, and they are certainly ready for the road ahead.