Tarrus Riley

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Tarrus Riley
Tarrus Riley at the Summerjam Festival 2013
Tarrus Riley at the Summerjam Festival 2013
Background information
Birth nameOmar Riley
Born (1979-04-26) 26 April 1979 (age 44)
The Bronx, New York, United States
OriginKingston, Jamaica
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active2005–present
  • VP
  • Cannon Productions

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


Performing at Negril Escape, 2009

Riley was born in The Bronx, New York, and raised in Jamaica. His father Jimmy Riley was a veteran reggae singer. Tarrus made his recording debut as a teenager. In 2004, he 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 that have rewarded Riley include the Youth View Awards, The Star People's Choice Awards, EME Awards, and the Reggae Academy awards. He 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 album, Contagious, on Cannon Productions. The album was distributed by VP Records. It contained the hits "Start Anew", "Contagious", and "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 a Nyabinghi rhythm album 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 became hits 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, with a return to the same event scheduled for December 2019.

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 Riley his first number-one placing on the Billboard Reggae Albums chart in February 2014.[5]

Riley was featured on Major Lazer's song "Powerful", from the 2015 album Peace Is the Mission, along with Ellie Goulding.

In 2020, he collaborated with male producer Rvssian and female dancehall artist Shenseea on the song "Lighter" which emerged as one of his biggest hits in the Caribbean and their native country Jamaica.[6]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2007: Jamaica Observer Artiste of the Year[7]
  • 2008: Excellence in Music and Entertainment (EME) Awards – Cultural Artiste of the Year (nominated), Male Vocalist of Year Award, Song of The Year ("She's Royal")[8]
  • 2008: Reggae Academy Awards – Best Reggae Song, Most Popular Song (both for "She's Royal"), Best Solo Male Vocal Performance, Breakthrough Reggae Artiste[9]
  • 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)[10]


  • Challenges (2004), VP
  • Parables (2006), VP
  • Contagious (2009), VP
  • Mecoustic (2012), VP
  • Love Situation (2014),[11] Zojak World Wide
  • Healing (2020),[12] JukeBoxx Productions/Zojak World Wide


  1. ^ Kenner, Rob (2009) "Reggae Singer With a Legacy, a Following and a Mission". New York Times. 21 August 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  2. ^ "Riley's European Love Affair Grows – Artiste Happy With Response To New Album". Jamaica Gleaner. 1 May 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2012.
  3. ^ Bonitto, Brian (2014) "Tarrus salutes Rock Steady", Jamaica Observer, 19 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  4. ^ Campbell, Howard (2014) "Tarrus walks down memory lane", Jamaica Observer, 5 February 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  5. ^ "Riley’s Love Situation tops Billboard", Jamaica Observer, 14 February 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014.
  6. ^ "'Lighter' Challenge Started From Shenseea, Tarrus Riley's Popular Song". Radio Jamaica News. 14 September 2020. Retrieved 24 February 2024.
  7. ^ Walters, Basil (2007) "Tarrus Riley: 'The sky is not the limit, it's too close' Archived 29 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 11 January 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  8. ^ "QUEEN IFRICA Singjay of the year Archived 30 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Observer, 10 February 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  9. ^ "Royal treatment for Tarrus Riley at Reggae Academy Awards Archived 23 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine", Jamaica Gleaner, 26 February 2008. Retrieved 31 August 2009.
  10. ^ Jackson, Kevin (2014) "5 For MOBO Reggae", Jamaica Observer, 24 September 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
  11. ^ "Damian Marley 2015 Catch A Fire Tour Schedule With Stephen Marley, Morgan Heritage and Tarrus Riley". 14 May 2015. Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  12. ^ "Review: Tarrus Riley - Healing". 27 August 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2020.

External links[edit]