Lionel “Bingie” Barker, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. The son of calypso king “Lord Jellico” and choir singer Esmie, Barker began his singing career as a child, first in the school choir at St. Anne’s Infant And Primary Schools (Western Kingston) and then joining his mother’s church choir. A normal (thus slightly mischievous) child, Barker’s childhood pranks resulted in an usual punishment: to accompany his father “to work” and spend long hours in recordings sessions or at rehearsals. This “punishment” was perfect for the musically inclined young Barker: the experience enhanced Barker’s musical appreciation, and he was fortunate to meet Jamaica’s top musicians including Don Drummond, the entire Skatalites band, Babba Brooks, Bryon Lee (producer and The Dragonnaires’ band leader) and many others.
During these recording sessions, Barker was often rewarded for good behavior by being allowed to play the triangle, the grater – and sometimes to sing background vocals (to his father’s lead vocals) on a track or two. Barker also accompanied his father to gigs at the North Coast hotels, and the young Barker’s performances earned applause, one dollar bills, and Coca Cola. When Barker was seven years old, he sang a duet with his sister, Alethia, which was broadcast “live” throughout Jamaica on Radiofusion (RJR) and Radio Jamaica.
Barker was a teenager during the era of the highly competitive outdoor sound systems which blazed music on Kingston streets. He rarely missed a live concert and, influenced by the performances of local and foreign artists, Barker formed a trio, “Bingie And The Astronaughts,” in 1968.
Barker emigrated to Canada in 1972 to attend Algonquin College Of Arts, Science and Technology, and soon joined the Sound of Freedom band as lead vocalist. The group performed alongside an array of international artists including The Fabulous 5 and Inner Circle. Barker was also a radio deejay, and hosted the only Afro/Caribbean program being broadcast in 1979. In November of that year, Barker had the opportunity to meet Bob Marley while The Wailers were touring Canada. Barker’s interview with Bob Marley has been aired annually on Cable Channel 22 in Ottawa since 1981.
In 1990, Barker formed “Bingie Barker And The Raggamuffin Band,” and the group took the city of Ottawa by storm; they captured “Band Of The Year” and “Vocalist Of The Year” awards in 1991. The Raggamuffin Band is:
Colridge “Simba” JnoFinn – Drums: A native of Dominican Republic, Simba has 20 years experience as a drummer and is a founding member of the band
Vince Johnson – Bass: Vince, originally from Montserrat, is a versatile and entertaining bassist who sings and writes music
Popo Murigande – Guitar: Reputed to be one of Ottawa’s best guitarists, Popo is from Burundi, Africa, and has toured with blues, jazz, and reggae bands throughout Europe; the backbone in Raggamuffin music, Popo has released two cds
Kagiso Impala – Keyboards: Originally from Jamaica, Ras Kagiso backs up his lead keyboard lines with riffs of all flavors; also a poet, Ras Kagiso has toured Africa with various music projects