Southern Brooklyn

Famed Singer-Songwriter Garland Jeffreys Reflects On Sheepshead Bay Roots

Jeffreys (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

File under things I learned today: famed singer-songwriter Garland Jeffreys is a Sheepshead Bay native, and apparently his experiences here have played a significant role in his forty-plus-year career.

Known for straddling the line between genres ranging from rock and roll, reggae, blues and soul, with racially conscious undertones, the man behind “Wild in the Streets” drew inspiration from his experiences as a mixed-race kid in Sheepshead Bay.

“I was a light-skinned black Latino, growing up in Sheepshead Bay in the 1950s. Being multi-ethnic was something that was frowned on. We were the only family of color in the (local) Catholic church,” he said in a recent interview with the Daily Record.

But Jeffreys says he managed to make his way in a tough situation. His music, he said, reflects that.

“That’s what I’m about in a lot of ways,” Jeffreys said. “I have a pretty good handle on my life — where I’m from, what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen.”

The urban grit of a Sheepshead Bay in the midst of a residential and demographic boom exposed him to some cutting edge music.

“Growing up in Brooklyn, we had the street corner sounds of early rock ’n’ roll like Little Richard,” he said.

Jeffreys has 14 solo albums in a career going back to 1970.

These days, he still likes to rock out—just on the beat of his own schedule.

“I’m not interested in recycling myself,” said. “I do music when I feel I have something to say.”

The interview comes as Jeffreys releases another album, Truth Serum. Check out this video from the single “Any Rain”.

— Vanessa Ogle