If you’re looking for a soundtrack to your summer, look no further than Maxi Priest.
Known for the hits “Close To You” and “That Girl,” the London-born reggae-pop star is bringing positivity and island vibes to Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island on Sunday. And he’s bringing with him a new single, “I’m Alright,” from the album “It All Comes Back To Love,” which drops Sept. 20.
The upbeat “I’m Alright” features the iconic Shaggy, who also produced the album.
“I mean, it’s something that has various different meanings I guess, because over the course of life we all individually used it in some way or another, whether it be positive or negative,” Priest tells The Post of the song’s title. “For this particular song, we’re trying to use it for a positive way. There’s always something that finds itself in the way, or some form of negativity, and I guess when you’re trying to achieve something you have to put some blinkers on and say I don’t care what people want to say — I’m all right. I don’t care what they want to do — I’m all right. And really count the blessings that you have.”
The new album, which also features collabs with Anthony Hamilton and Estelle on “Anything You Want,” continues the radio-friendly reggae flow Priest perfected in the late ’80s and early ’90s.
Dubbed “The King of Lovers Rock,” the smooth-singing Priest became a worldwide star — “one of the most internationally popular reggae singers since Bob Marley,” according to AllMusic.com — with his fourth album, “Bonafide,” with “Close to You” reaching No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1990. Six years later, the infectious “That Girl,” with Shaggy’s trademark gruff delivery blending with Priest’s velvety vocals, was another smash.
Maxi PriestShervin Lainez
“We’ve got a very long history, and we have a friendship of — I think it’s two people that have come from the same situation,” Priest says. “We’ve always tried to maintain a friendship of trying to help each other along the way. In his earlier days I helped him out and kind of look at this as him returning a favor and also a natural progression of our friendship where I can hang with him and kick it and we write some songs.”
Priest, who also sang a duet with Roberta Flack on her hit version of the ballad “Set The Night To Music,” says his curiosity about musical traditions beyond reggae led him to his crossover sound.
“I think it was an intention as well as it was something that was in me because of my appreciation for all types of music,” he says. “As a kid, I was watching Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin and thinking, how do you sing like that? How do you make this work? And trying to figure this out for myself. And loving rock and all these kinds of things and thinking to myself, damn, this would be great to use a piece of this, a piece of that, and kind of bring it together.
“I think I did it consciously but also subconsciously — I’m not a genius,” he says with a laugh.
Bringing people together with his music has been particularly rewarding for Priest, whose mother was a Pentecostal missionary who brought strangers off the street to eat dinner with the family.
“I’ve always been about bringing people together,” he says. “Even when I was a young kid growing up, I had to face first-hand racism or people telling me to go back to my country and crap like that. It was always there. …
“For me, it’s my own little way to bring some form of unification in this world, and I’m very proud of myself. Very, very proud of myself. My mom is no longer here with us, but I can see her going, ‘Good on ya, boy.’ ”