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The one arm keyboard luminary is well known in the entertainment circle of Western Jamaica. Born on the 2nd of March 1954, the accomplished singer and musician hails from Hayes, Clarendon. In 1969 he went to live in Kingston until 1973. Ancel's first effort in a recording studio was inside the popular Randy's in downtown Kingston. He did a single called 'Riding On' on the Musical Barber label out of Mandeville.
In 1977 he joined a group called Solid Foundation and stayed with them for two years. After that he moved to Montego Bay to sing with Stamma and the Sounds of Mobay, with who he appeared on Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1980.
Johnny made the move for the United States in 1982, and formed his first own band 'Uprisers' in Pittsburgh city.
One of the things he likes to talk about is how he once reunited the famed Clarendonians with Peter Austin and Ernest Wilson. Both pioneer icons were at irreconcilable odds with each other for quite some time. When he came back to Jamaica in 1985, he invited Ernest Wilson to do back-up vocals for him. For the same studio session, he also invited Peter Austin for the same back-up duties, and that was how the reunion came about. Inside famous Aquarius studio, there was Burning Spear's personal Band called Burning. The songs recorded there were 'Moving Out' and 'True Love' with top musicians : Tony Green on the saxophone, Bobby Ellis on the trumpet, Dwight Pinkney on the guitar, Calvin on percussion, Nelson Miller on the drums and Maurice Gordon on bass. This was not the first time Ancel was working with Peter Austin. When the split came in the ranks of the Clarendonians, Ancel was asked to fill the breach. He thus teamed up with Peter Austin and their first single together was entitled 'Out Of Sight'. They later entered the annual Jamaica Festival Song competition in 1975. Their entry was entitled 'Paradise On Earth' which Ancel said was quite popular. However, it was not popular enough to prevent the late Roman Stewart from copping the award with 'Hooray Festival'.
After the release of 'Moving Out', Johnny moved to Miami and continued his career as a solo artist, singing with different local bands. He did a number of singles, notably were 'Faith, Patience and Love' and 'Stand Back' for a producer called Jolly in Miami. In 1988 Powell formed his second band Benja, a band which gained increasing popularity in the time in South Florida. They have performed on several festivals, played in most major clubs and were a big success in Andros Island in the Bahamas for an audience who not necessarily consider Reggae their prime choice of music.
The saddest part of his life was when he lost his left hand to what doctors termed as a cancerous situation in 1977. This did not, however, stop him from learning how to play keyboards. Initially he was taught by the late Bobby Vaugh in Montego Bay and also got further teaching from jamaican saxophinist Reuben Alexander.
Now approaching 70 years old, Ancel is still very active in his music. In previous years he performed at the Marcus Garvey Celebration and is currently working with the “Synergy Band” at Royalton Hotel in Negril under the stage name “Ancel P.” Let the one arm keyboard luminary life and music live eternally !
Produced by Ancel "Johnny" Powell & Patricia Wallace
Engineer: Melvin Williams
Recorded at Aquarius Studio (Kingston, JA) in 1985
Bass: Maurice Gordon
Drums: Nelson Miller
Guitar: Dwight Pinkney
Saxophone: Tony Green
Trumpet: Bobby Ellis
Keyboards: Winston Wright
Backing vocals: Ernest Wilson & Peter Austin from the Clarendonians