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Interview with Cornelius Oliphant

Born in Jamaica, Cornelius Oliphant moved to Florida where he started working as an entertainer on a cruiseship in 1970. After working as a waiter he founded his own 'Knockout' label on which he released at least 4 maxi singles throughout the 80's. 'It's Your Turn To Cry' from 1986 is the most beautiful and extremely indemand. Other recordings are 'U Turn My Life Around' from 1985, 'Take My Advice'/'You Are My Dream Come True' from 1987 and his last single from 1991, the brilliant 'I Love You' , which although a 90's production, has a very 80's feel to it. It seems that by the time of 1986, Cornelius had changed his artist name into 'Cornilius' for some reason, only to re-use Cornelius again for upcoming records. Unfortunately, Cornelius Oliphant never released an LP. (click here to listen to a sample of 'It's Your Turn to Cry')

On this page I have written all i know about Cornelius Oliphant and his fantastic record 'It's Your Turn To Cry'. Now i'm very pleased to talk to the artist himself. Welcome Cornelius, how are you doing?

Cornelius Oliphant:

I am very well thank you and I hope you are too.

I remember that you had your own website a few years ago, but it suddenly went offline and therefore i was not able to locate you earlier. You were always one of the artists I definately wanted to interview for my site. Really cool to have you featured now. Did you know that your record 'It's Your Turn To Cry' is like a diamond for the serious soul/funk collector?

Cornelius Oliphant:

Well, I did not know but I am happy to hear that ofcourse.

Before we talk about your records, let us get into your past. So you were born in Jamaica, Kingston? Can you tell me about your youth in Jamaica, the music you listened to and who where influental for you.

Cornelius Oliphant

Yes I was born in Jamaica but not in Kingston. I was born in St. Mary.
I have always loved music growing up as a child. I always loved to sing, as a matter of fact my entire family loved music. One of my favorite singers when growing up was Fats Domino.

What was the reason for leaving your native Island and move to Florida?
I can imagine you found yourself in a totally different musical atmosphere there.

Cornelius Oliphant:

I did not plan to move to Florida, I was working on a cruise ship singing when the ship stopped in Miami on Saturdays. I went ashore and met a young lady in Fort Lauderdale. So I decided to make Florida my home.

I know that you were mainly a Reggae artist prior to founding your Knockout label. I even own a 7 inch reggae single of you called ´Spit In The Sky' on Wisdom Records. Were you a solo artist at that time or did you have your own band?

Cornelius Oliphant

Yes I wrote various Reggae songs and I was actually a solo singer.

Around what time did you start your own label Knockout Records?

Cornelius Oliphant:

Knockout Records started in the early 80's, I don't remember the exact year.

To my knowledge your first single on Knockout dates from 1985 and features the song 'U Turn My Life Around'. You seemed to have shifted from producing Reggae music to producing Soul/Funk music right? Why was that?

Cornelius Oliphant:

I love Reggae music don't get me wrong because it's my native music.
But I always wanted to be a Soul/Funk artist.

Then came 1986, the year in which you wrote your great 'It's Your Time to Cry'...Now that is a whole class apart, full of heartbreak and emotion. What is the story behind that track?

Cornelius Oliphant:

Well, its just a nice song that came to my mind and I said people are being hurt every day,
so I should record the song so people can hear it.

Who else were involved in your project? And how long did it take you to finish the record?

Cornelius Oliphant:

The people that were involved are Gary King on guitar and background vocal. Emridge Jones on keyboard and background vocal. Harry King on drums and Warren Jackson playing the bass. The project took us a few months to bring it to perfection.

I always like to know about the equipment that was used for producing my favorite records, as I am into music production myself a little. Do you remember what you had hooked up in the studio?

Cornelius Oliphant:

I don't remember exactly what was there but it wasn't anything extra special, just normal studio equipment. The guys are just good players, they knew their stuff.

How was the record received by the public and how was it promoted? Did you hand out copies to local DJ's to have your record aired? That would be silly if you know the current value of it :)
Collectors pay well over $500 for a copy. My own copy wasn't cheap either.

Cornelius Oliphant:

I had really good feedback from the public and yes I handed out several copies to DJ's.
I could not have imagined back then that my record was going to be a collectors item.
It's amazing and I thank god for that.

Given the rarity of this record, I assume just a few hundreds of it exist.
Do you remember the exact number of copies made?

Cornelius Oliphant:

I don't remember the exact number of copies but quite a lot of copies were pressed.

Do you still listen to your record sometimes? What do you feel about it now?

Cornelius Oliphant:

I do listen to it sometimes, and everytime I listen to it and the quality of the music,
I know without a doubt it will always be a hit song.

You released a few other singles afterwards, the last being 'I Love You'. Congratulations for that too, wonderful song. Did you ever plan to release an LP? I suppose you had more demos waiting to be released.

Cornelius Oliphant:

I didn't have plans for an album then but in the present I am writing songs for a new album.

Great, keep me posted on that! What happened with the label after the release of 'I Love You'?
Was that the end of Knockout Records?

Cornelius Oliphant:

No, I don't think so. Knockout Records will hopefully be back soon because I want to release my album on it.

I want to thank you for your time to do this interview Cornelius and wish you good luck in your career and life. Thank you for the wonderful music you shared with the world. A word to your fans?

Cornelius Oliphant:

You are very welcome. I would also like to thank you for the interview. And I would like to thank all my fans for their wonderful support. Keep up the good works and I wish you all the best.

Cornelius Oliphant.

March, 2011

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