Herbie FABULUS was born in the coastal city of Montego Bay, on the tropical Caribbean island of Jamaica; home to some of the greatest musical giants, athletes and world changers in our history.
As a young lad, he had the opportunity to travel for a three-week summer vacation to Toronto, Canada with his mother, where upon arrival he immediately fell in love with the city.
Before returning home, Herbie had already made the decision that Toronto would be his new home one day – and subsequently, immediately after returning to his homeland, with the approval and initiatives of his beloved, late mother, the necessary arrangements to relocate there the following year, were finalized.
His decision was also made easier by what his mother had always dreamt of and wished for all her three sons; a brighter overall future than what the Island was showing signs of.
She wanted that even more so for her last, her baby boy by many years.
Though it pained her greatly to let him go away to a foreign land, it was a very common sacrifice she and so many other single mothers endured in those days, often to other relatives, older siblings, trusted friends and even strangers that would offer to accept. It was for the promise of betterment at the end of the rainbow for their offspring. Such an unselfish act.
Miss. Mavis or Ms. Walker as she was commonly referred to, was convinced that largely due to the hot, escalating turmoil between Jamaica’s two major political JLP and PNP parties, and the rapid emergence of new, dangerous street gangs weekly, the safety climate of the island was not conducive for a successful future of a young Herbie FABULUS.
This forward thinking mother could not pass up on the opportunity of greener pastures for such a young impressionable boy; it also seemed much more plausible in a foreign land, and it came at just the right time.
This moment was however bitter sweet in a way: Seven days prior to migrating, Herbie unanimously won a wildly touted local singing talent contest, in front of a capacity crowd, at the then popular Strand theatre, with the then popular mega hit ‘Love forever’-a song made famous by the late, legendary Jamaican songstress Cynthia Schloss.
He was leaving behind what was a sure thing; the start of what was no doubt the birth of a very bright musical career ahead of him at a very young age, for the promise of a better future in life.
Even with no formal musical training, just blessed with an abundance of God given talents, we for certain know what could have been: We will however never know, what would have been had he remained in Jamaica.
Yes, May25th, 1976 was indeed a night “I will remember forever” so says the now grown up father of two. He remembers not knowing what to expect or what the evening was really about, completely clueless. After all he knew only a small handful of songs that he memorized from listening to the local radio stations often.
Though he had done one live stage show a month prior at Jarret Park, singing two different songs, he had no real substantial musical experience to speak of…simply, Herbie loved singing, then and now.
It was that same evening when the unplanned decision was made for him, to enter the talent show. In fact, he had met the band by chance at their rehearsal only a few hours before the actual show time. They asked the young boy if he could sing, and would he be interested in performing that night. After singing halfway through two songs, ‘A boy name Junior’ and the eventual winning song, it was a slam dunk ‘yes’ by everyone. All that was needed now was approval from a close family friend that Herbie’s mother trusted to watch over him when she was not around, a popular DJ name Frank James, who operated a sound system that played out all over the island on weekends.
The fact that Frank had also been a residential tenant of Ms. Walker as well for a number of years prior, meant that she had a lot of trust in him as a person, so much so that she likened him to a son, and would not question anything he suggested for her naïve youngster. He Approved without question, but still sent Herbie home to inform her that he was needed back for what was a quick one time run of the song he was to do…otherwise known as a rehearsal. Rehearsal was at 7:00PM sharp, show time was 8:00PM.
His mom replied by asking ‘Wah name soh?” (what is that), to which Herbie replied, “Mi noh know, ask Frank later. Him tell mi fi come home and tell uh” (I have no idea, he just told me to come home and tell you). Just so she would not worry over my lateness to arrive home from school. Telephone presence back then in homes was mostly for the rich and elite, and even then, a luxury. Sending verbal messages was the in-thing; it would reach the intended whenever; hours, days, weeks, depending on destination and transportation. Snail mail at times was faster.
“I remember not being able to hear myself on the stage a lot, as the screaming was deafening from the audience” says Herbie now.
The organizers/MC ushered him back out onto the stage to sing the song a second time because of the audience demand.
When the winner was eventually announced, it was unanimous, and based largely on applause from the crowd; Herbie was then paraded around the stage like a trophy in the arms of the late Freddie McKay who was decked out in a shiny gold suit. Freddie was at that time still riding high waves of success from his 1971, what is now a classic reggae hit song, Picture on the wall.
Looking back Herbie once again emphatically states; “Not only was I not able to hear a thing over the audience screams, I seem to remember just steering blankly through the blinding stage lights into loud darkness”.
Immediately after the event, as not to be out too late, for there is still school the following day, Herbie was directed to go straight home to his mother that night, by his assumed big brother.
Upon arriving he nonchalantly told his mother that he had won. She said, “Good, Wey di money dey?”
Translated into English as Congratulations. Where is the money you won.
He simply told her to ask Frank when he gets home, and that he was not given any moneys. “I knew I had done something big but I was clueless about the magnitude.
The next day bright and early, Herbie attended school and was a tad late entering his class, just after the bell rang.
Shortly after, unsuspectingly, the full classroom erupted in cheers along with the rest of the entire Barracks Road Primary school, faculty members and students alike. A congratulatory message was announced on the PA system during the traditional morning worship festivities, for what he accomplished the night before.
A popular, beloved physed teacher known to students simply as Miss Reid, was in attendance at the talent show, and she did more than ensure that the entire school’s population knew about the results, from the moment she entered the school premises that next day.
Herbie “still had not a damn clue”, as he bluntly puts it, what he had just done, only that he won the big talent show that everyone was talking about for weeks and months, that was coming to town.
Seven days later he went to school in the morning to attended classes like every other regular day. Immediately after lunch period was over, the entire school was allowed out unto the balconies and into the hallways to wave and say goodbye to a boy filled with, and engulfed with a mixture of emotions: joy, sadness, anxiety, uncertainty and optimism… no real certainty or clues of what truly lies ahead.
Miss Reid, sporting her usual tennis outfit gym attire, actually went to the airport to wave a final goodbye, as so many people often traditionally do in Jamaica when someone they know is leaving the island for good.
Herbie says that next to saying good bye to his schoolmates, classmates, teachers, friends and his mother, informing the members of the Sun Jet Band, that backed him, and the Florida promoter who staged the event, that he would not be residing in the Island anymore, was one of the main sadness he experienced then.
Everyone had a very disappointed and dejected countenance after hearing. I felt very very bad and did not know what to say to them. We even talked about possibilities for after I migrated, but my new guardians were not interested in following up, despite seeing a black and white photo and listening to an 8-track recording of the show. They were only concerned about me getting an education.
It should be noted that Herbie was given very strict instruction by his mother, to be 100% tight lipped about his impending departure, until the day of. So much so that not even his beloved father Horace McHayle had no clue until after the plane carrying Herbie was already airborne. This was done out of fear of having anything impeding. It is not uncommon for things such as jealousy or even what may be deemed superstitious activities, to be a cause of derailment. Ms.Walker was not going to take any chances.
Though not as much at that point, as initially, Herbie still was somewhat oblivious as to what he had done the week before. It just had not hit home yet, and would not until many years later as he grew into adulthood.
A few hours later, Herbie boarded an Air Canada DC-8 plane, bound for his new land of opportunities, no doubt carrying others seeking the same.
He was escorted right to his seat by his equally sad and teary eyed mother, a high positioned, senior airport employee at that time, along with a stewardess. The aircraft was now just moments away from take-off, to carry Herbie and others away to their new adopted homes and country; Toronto, (Pickering) Canada’.
Herbie tells the story “I had a white handkerchief my mom had put in my pocket to wipe sweat from my face if I needed to during the flight, she had a white one for very different reasons.
As the airplane taxied down the runway her and I continuously waved at each other till we could no longer see each other, the building was now a dot. I had a window seat, and was facing the same side as the terminal. You could see all the people on the waving gallery waving at the plane carrying their love ones.
Months later she sent me a letter telling me she knew it was me because of the handkerchief, and I too knew it was her because of her white handkerchief, no doubt soaked with sweat and tears. The undying love of mothers. Can never be replaced. The sacrifices they will make for us…Priceless”.
So began a new chapter in his life.
Herbie spent his first few years residing in Pickering, just outside of Toronto, where he attended, Sir John A. McDonald public school, and later Pickering high school. He excelled at his natural loves music and sports, playing drums all through high school and doing track and field. In fact the only class subjects in which he had high nineties were music and Physed.
As it is such a common trait for most Jamaican youngsters, it was not surprising that in his early years in Canada, he was an all-star football/soccer player with great endurance and blinding speed, for the town of Pickering.
In the fall of his first year in Canada, Herbie quickly learned some valuable life lessons, among them was that not everything was going to be a bed of roses as he first thought, in his new environment.
The harsh reality of winter required some serious adjustments, but the period was short.
During that first term in public school, he encountered his first experiences of blatant racism, along with what he now recalls and refers to as an impactful, unforgettable bullyism incident. This situation led him to meet the late, legendary Canadian boxing trainer, Joe Hajnal, upon walking in fresh off the street, through the doors of the Ajax Boxing Club, an hour east of Toronto.
While working with Joe, along with assistant trainer and founder of the Ajax Boxing club, the late Don Ross, Herbie was immediately pegged as an extremely gifted and naturally talented boxer, in addition to being a naturally gifted, all-around athlete.
Herbie enjoyed his time in boxing, training alongside some of the greatest Canadian/world champions including future undisputed heavyweight king Lennox Lewis, Olympic silver medalist/NABF light heavyweight king, close friend, Egerton Marcus, Canadian and British Commonwealth Champion Donavon Boucher and so many other greats.
Training under the watchful eye of late Canadian National, International and Olympic coach, Adrian Teodorescu, Joe Hajnal, Don Ross, and others over many years, instilled in him so much about discipline and hard work.
Herbie was never babied, immediately he was tossed in the ring to sparr with Canadian light heavyweight champion Willie Featherstone and other top world-class fighters. “i had to learn on a dime how to survive, and in so doing I paid dearly. I had a hairline crack on my sternum one time that lasted almost a month. It felt like a blazing volcano with each breath. Many soar jaws, and nose, I drank liquids from a straw to avoid the pain of chewing” at times”. He took from boxing many great, lifelong friendships, countless great memories, and most importantly, as he puts it:
"Valuable, priceless life skills".
“I really developed my dedication and commitment to work hard, sacrifice through pain and adversity in order to succeed. I have a mental toughness second to none along with a strong ability to focus with challenging tough tasks. Everyday life requires the same overall ethics. The same principles apply.
“One must NEVER QUIT if he or she wants to succeed at anything”.
“When you get knocked down, which in most cases in life, it is inevitable, get right back up and keep fighting hard, give all you got till the last bell...NEVER STOP PUNCHING”
All qualities he picked up through the sweet science.
Herbie was quoted as saying :
“I believe that when you enter a boxing ring, you don’t do so alone. The referee, your opponent, death and yourself are always active participants. Anyone of them can stop a fight at any given moment...sometimes a guy called luck shows up too to help out if you don't quit.”
After 67 fights (59 wins and 8 losses), including a destructive victory over 1996 Jamaican Olympian middleweight, Sean Black, just before that summer’s Olympic games in Atlanta, USA, avenging “my worst loss” in December 1995; a number of various sport (boxing) related injuries/surgeries…Herbie decided it was time to shift focus to other avenues in life.
Through his boxing career, and beyond; Herbie never lost his burning desire to pursue, probably his greatest passion; singing at a professional level. In fact, it was not uncommon to often find him at random karaoke establishments, often teaming up with strangers, a friend or entering some form of competitions. His winnings of free food or drinks, he always gave away to random people in the establishments.
He says he developed his love for singing by listening to his mother sing every Sunday night while she washed clothes and ironed for the family. Though he often joined her, he preferred to ‘listen to her golden voice’ as he puts it. Her inspiration would give him the drive to later make FABULUS music of his own.
With the help of Canadian, Juno award winning, multi-talented artist/producer Errol Starr, Herbie Fabulus started his professional journey in music just a few short years ago.
They have worked diligently together on Herbie's debut EP called, 'Good man', consisting of Excellent original materials, along with a brilliant rendition of Wilson Picket’s classic ‘Midnight hour’.
It is not often that artist cover songs and do justice to them; in this case the argument could be made, that this rendition is catchier than the original, certainly it is more upbeat/danceable. This track alone justifies purchasing the entire CD, which contains originals that are gems in their own rights. No two tracks sound the same; owning theses collection of songs is a true music lover’s dream.
With extraordinary smooth vocals, classic, clean sounds, meaningful songs, Herbie FABULUS is a welcomed breath of fresh air to global music fans, particularly those who appreciates vintage sounding, soulful reggae singers. Though very versatile, with a deep love and appreciation for all types of music, Reggae, old school R & B is what hits home with this future bright star.
Herbie Fabulus would like to remind not just his fans, but the masses at large that: “All things are possible for you and to you. If you believe in yourself, pay your dues, work hard, work smart, Dream BIG; Think BIG, do not quit or give up, FOCUS, take action, communicate daily with our creator for instructions, guidance and directions.
“Surround yourself with good/positive people”.
“BELIEVE IN YOURSELF…give yourself a chance.
“NEVER LISTEN TO DOUBTERS. Go where no one else has been and blaze your own trail”.
“You can never win by yourself”.
“You must also help others along the way”.
“Iron Sharpens Iron… So empower each other”
“We rise up in life by raising others, NOT PUSHING THEM DOWN”.
This talented artist is often referred to as Canada's Best Kept Reggae music’s Secret"
Herbie’s debut CD Good man,
Contains songs that are destined to make significant, positive, global impact on true music lovers. Starting with the title track, the catchy, sensible reggae/R&B flavored ‘Good man’
There is also the smooth, catchy lover’s rock ‘Crawling’ with it’s unique British sound.
Then there’s the gut wrenching, tear jerking ballad that every and anyone who loses or have lost a love-one MUST listen to. A very touching ballad that Herbie says was compelled to him in a vision by his beloved mother many years after she passed. He later penned it after a piece of his heart was unexpectedly ripped away; his childhood and life long idol, his father. A few short years later, another devastating loss, his adult mentor, close family friend and bosom friend, “more like a dream brother”, was taken away by cancer. Herbie did not have a chance to see neither of these two men in the recent years before their passing, hence this moving tribute.
“I hope that in listening to this song (RIP) Rest in Peace, it will speak for others who may not be able to speak to their losses for whatever reasons. I did initially put it out around the time Prince (my favorite musician/song writer) passed away as tribute, but it is for the use of everyone. It is the song that I am proudest of, and satisfied with. I hope it will be useful to others long after I am gone”.
Do not hesitate, go and obtain the entire CD, tell a friend, check out the rest.
There is something for everyone to enjoy; definitely one of the best debut collection of music by anyone anywhere. The quality of the recordings is top notch, and the world class musicianship is second to none. You do not need to listen to a disc with thirty mediocre songs, rather one with smaller numbers of high calibre, clean enough for all ears and meaningful.
Can’t wait to hear lots more Fabulus tunes from this man as they come.
This collection of music is bound to have a lasting impact and popularity globally. If this is any indication, Herbie FABULUS is in for a very impactful/successful musical global journey.
Join Club Fabulus, stay connected, be informed, support and keep spreading the word.
Herbie Fabulus debut EP. is available entirely on Streaming services and on his website, herbiefabulus.com
Pick up a copy and support his journey.
Each time you purchase a copy or all things Herbie Fabulus, a portion of the revenue generated goes to supporting many less fortunate, both locally and globally. A commitment Herbie has made based on the example shown to him by his parents.
“My mother NEVER cooked for us only, it was ALWAYS for the neighborhood. Neighbours that would pass by and could use a bite, drink a cup of soup or even just a cool drink. It could be just ice water. We were fortunate to have our own fridge and did not have to go to the ice factory and buy ice. If my father came to visit me at school for lunch or recess, he brought extra everything, or he would tell me to share whatever I had with my friends I am playing with. He just always brought extras to share or give away”.
To whom much is given, much is required. It is all our duties to make positive differences in the lives of others less fortunate with however little or plenty we have. The seeds we sow is what we reap and our children will reap the same long after we are gone.