Photography and Text by Tony Ward, Copyright 2022
Keith Murray: In Honor of Black History Month
When I received the call from George Pitts, picture editor for Vibe magazine in the Fall of 1994, I didn’t know who Keith Murray was. Most of the public didn’t know either until he released his first album, The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World. Pitts hired me to photograph the 20 year old rapper because I was known for making dramatic portraits of people from various walks of life. The editor told me this young man was about to “blow up” because the rumors swirling at Jive Records the rappers label leaked that they had a mega hit on their hands. That turned out to be true and the Vibe editor responded well when he received the pictures.
I arrived at Murray’s modest home in Central Islip, located on the South Shore of Long Island on a cold damp day. At first we took a few shots around the outside of his house but he was all bundled up wearing a black down coat with jeans and a skullcap. I couldn’t get the type of shot George Pitts was expecting of me by the way he was styled for shooting outdoors. The expectation at the time was that I was creating provocative portraits. There was nothing provocative in my mind about taking a picture of Keith Murray wearing a down coat, so he suggested we take a ride over to his recording studio instead.
Once we arrived there his enthusiasm for the shoot grew and he was comfortable enough with me that I suggested he remove the coat and his lumberjack shirt for more of a provocative effect. Keith was quite eager to oblige revealing a fit physique. After I took a few frames I knew I had the shot so I made sure to cover it in color and black and white. This is the first time that the color version has ever been published.
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