When Cocoa Tea was booked to perform at the Lions Centre in Grand Cayman a few years ago, tickets went fast. Unfortunately, he arrived on island but didn’t perform because of a promotional dispute. A lot of ticket buyers waiting excitedly at the venue were left disappointed.
The reggae crooner has a huge fan base dotted around the world. The 58-year-old Jamaican is one of reggae's most talented and versatile artists. His smooth, easy-going vocal presentation has become his trademark, earning him wide international acclaim; with songs like ‘Lost My Sonia’, ‘Tune In’ and ‘Rocking Dolly’, becoming anthems.
Admired and respected for his fine conscious recordings, Cocoa Tea is also known for his unwavering generosity and kindness for the less fortunate.
Born Calvin George Scott on 3 Sept. 1959, in Rocky Point, Clarendon, he is another fine product of that parish. Other Clarendonians who became stars include Barrington Levy, Freddie McGregor and Everton Blender.
From the exposure gained by singing on church and school choirs, Cocoa Tea recorded his first song, ‘Searching In The Hills’, in 1974. It was not a commercial success. The next five years found him working first as a horse jockey, and then as a fisherman. It was during this time of fishing that he began structuring his music career. His training grounds were the dancehalls, where he would test his lyrics on the various sound systems that came to play in his area. His success in the dancehalls strengthened his purpose and encouraged him to go further, so he began writing songs and training his voice. The final push came when Rashane, his first child, was born. His need for a steady livelihood plunged him into music full time. Two months after an impressive performance at a dancehall in 1983,' Cocoa Tea went to Kingston where he met Henry "Junjo" Lawes. ‘Who's The Champion’ and his first big hit, ‘Rocking Dolly’, were the first products from what was to be a successful union. These songs along with ‘Christmas Is Coming’, and ‘On Top Of The World’, were all compiled with his next big hit, ‘I Lost My Sonia’ to produce his first album, by that name.
In 1985 Cocoa accepted the Rastafarian faith. The conversion was reflected in his music, with songs like ‘Settle Down’, ‘Don't Be Shy’, ‘Tune In’, and ‘Come Again’. The single ‘Rikers Island’, made it to No.1 in the United States and the UK and an album of the same name, his fifth, was to follow.
This album also included the hit single ‘One Woman Show’. ‘Oil Ting’, his most controversial recording, done off the politics in the Middle East, was banned in England, while it went to No.1 in America.
The commitment to music has paid off. He has been performing worldwide since 1984, with extensive tours to the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Japan. Locally he remains a regular on all major concerts and has appeared on reggae's premiere event, Reggae Sunsplash virtually every year since 1987. He singled out his three most memorable performances to date; his first performance at Sunsplash, a show in Canada, where he performed for two hours non-stop, and his landmark achievement, a performance in St. Croix, where he performed for 10,000 people in the pouring rain.
After recording for many of the top reggae labels including VP Records, Greensleeves Records and Ras Records, he started his own Roaring Lion label around 2000.
Cocoa Tea is not as well-known as some other reggae stars but there is no doubt that he is a widely respected figure.