Category Archives: Read by Volume/Issue/Year

Articles & more by each Volume/Issue/Year

Dancehall’s Tanya Stephens V12#5 1994

Tanya Stephens – Big Things a Gwan

Fresh on De Scene 1994
By Karie Russell

Do you know the name Tanya Stephens? Well, if you don’t, you soon will. She’s Dancehall’s latest singing sensation, and her advent to the dance halls couldn’t be more timely as there is such a dearth of female talent in this sphere of music.

Tanya Stephens 1996Born July 2, 1973, in rural St. Mary, Jamaica, Tanya is only 20, but she’ll quickly tell you that she’s got about 50 years of maturity to her credit. That’s very possible, given the mature songs she’s been mesmerizing the dance halls and airwaves with. In plain Jamaican terms, she have ‘nuff big chat fi her little size and age. Continue reading

Sistas & Dawtas – Past, Present, Future V9#3 1991

Sistas & Dawtas – V9#3 1991

(The links are to the artists featured in Reggae Trilogy: 200+ 80s & 90s Artist Headshots)
Story By R. Errol Lam

Even though the Reggae is still male-dominated, there are a large number of women performers who made their mark, especially over the past decade. Many are the more traditional singers, but DJs and Dub Poets have grown in number and popularity, not only in Jamaica but around the world. What follows here is a brief overview of some of these women. It’s obvious that we need more than one issue to cover the multitude of female talent in Reggae, but we wanted to start somewhere. So to all the Sistas & Dawtas who did not receive a mention here, please “feel no way.” You are important to us and certainly not overlooked. Just continue to be patient, and we’ll give you the time and space you so richly deserve. ~ The Editor

LOUISE BENNETT, affectionately known as Miss Lou, was born Louise Bennett Coverly in the 1920s. This beloved poetess made her Reggae debut on the Woman Talk: Caribbean Dub Poetry album (1986), produced by Mutabaruka. This endeavor is part of her work as a pioneer of people’s understanding and shows her appreciation of the unique culture of Jamaica. Her ever-present use of patois and the people’s language is clearly evident on the albums Color Bar and Dutty Tuff. Clearly, Miss Lou has earned the deep respect that goes with her label “Mother of Them All.”

SISTER BREEZE, whose real name is Jean Binta Breeze, was born Jean Lumsden in Patty Hill, Hanover Parish, Jamaica. She is probably the best known of the female poets. Her Riddym Ravings (1987) was a ROIR cassette with the message of truths and rights. She was a performer at the 1983 Reggae Sunsplash, and her “Get Back Ya Slack” spoke for positive statements about women. Three other singles standout: “Aid Travels with a Bomb,” “Baby Mother,” and “To Plant.” She first came to the attention of Mutabaruka as “the first sister who wasn’t bringing me love poetry.” Sister Breeze emphasizes the power of the word, and works to use poetry “to show what is really happening… like a class, a different sort of teaching.”

LILLIAN ALLEN, born in Jamaica in 1952, is now well established and living in Toronto. Her best two albums are Revolutionary Tea Party (1986) and Conditions Critical (1988). She is a Dub Poet. Her recitation of words to Reggae accompaniment hits hard at social issues. She credits her two main influences as Oku Onoura, the Jamaican [poet] who coined the term ‘Dub Poetry’ and the female Canadian folksinger Ferron. Her songs range from “I Fight Back,” attacking the exploitation of Blacks in Toronto to “Birth Poem,” an almost vivid representation of the birth process (this is Lillian’s favorite.) She has won a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammy) and continues to sing in patois about struggle and oppression. Ms. Allen has a degree in English Literature and has published a book of poetry entitled Rhythm an’ Hardtimes. According to her, “…I love words…I wanted to create a world where I didn’t have to take somebody else’s journey.” Lillian, who is not a musician, has taken these words and fused them with Reggae music to become a powerful voice and presence.

CARLENE DAVIS is a well-traveled Reggae singer (Europe, South America, U.S., Canada, Japan, and the Caribbean). This Reggae songbird was Jamaica’s 1982 Female Entertainer and Reggae Report’s 1983 Female Performer of the Year. She was born in 1953 in Jamaica, and first came to the public’s attention with the single “Stealing Love” in 1981. She has performed at Reggae Sunsplash in 1980 and 1988. In 1980, Carlene was one of the first females to have performed solo at Sunsplash. Her outstanding single “Winnie Mandela” stands out as a loving tribute to one of Africa’s genuine women leaders. Ms. Davis is one of Reggae’s best.

SOPHIA GEORGE is a young Jamaican songstress who is probably Reggae’s most dynamic and exciting performer. Her flamboyant style and infectious smile connect her with the audience each and every time. Sophia’s constant invitation for audience participation is always accepted. She appeared at the 1989 Reggae Sunsplash and seems to be always on tour, noteworthy of which were the Reggae Sunsplash USA tours of the past few years. Her international hits “Girlie Girlie,” “Final Decision,” “Wanna Dance With You,” and the cover of “Sing Our Own Song” are big favorites of her audiences. Her awards include the Best Female Performer at the Canadian Reggae Music Awards. [She is] a beautiful and inspired singer.

GINGER, part of the duo called Rankin’ Scroo & Ginger, was born Lydia Sur in Hawaii. Since 1980, the duo has been in the San Francisco Bay area. They have released three albums, Thanks and Praises (1984), Dubwatch (1987), which won “Best Album 1987-Northern California Reggae Awards, and Cry Freedom (1990). Two singles, “Burden” (1986) hit the Jamaican charts and “Nuh Do Dat” (1988) hit the U.S. charts. Their combination of DJ and singing with conscious lyrics make this team one to watch out for.

 

 

 

Sonia Pottinger – Reggae’s Female Producer 1991

The Music of Sonia Pottinger–High Note & Gay Feet   V9#3 1991

(2020 Update below)

By Lee O’Neill

producer sonia pottinger
Sonia Pottinger, Reggae’s first female producer

Many consider the mid-to-late sixties the golden age of Jamaican music. As the early Ska beat was changing into what would become Reggae, artists such as Ken Boothe, The Paragons, Alton Ellis, the Techniques, and the Gaylads were making hit after classic hit, and producers like Clement Dodd, Duke Reid, and Clancy Eccles were busy making bundles of money while defining the sound of Reggae music.

One of the most successful of these early producers was Sonia Pottinger, owner of the Gayfeet and High Note labels, possessor of a keen commercial sense and artist’s touch in the studio. Some of Reggae’s greatest songs were released on her label. Until recently, Pottinger’s reputation was in danger of disappearing. New anthologies of Pottinger productions on Heartbeat (Musical Feast) and Trojan (Put on Your Best Dress) join a few scattered tracks on anthologies, reissues of two of the Culture albums she produced, and some out-of-print Jamaican LPs, in a growing tribute to her talent Continue reading

SPRAGGA BENZ – 1995

SPRAGGA BENZ – Rising Star

by Yasmine Peru

Although ace DJ, Carlton “Spragga Benz” Grant has been on the music scene for less than two years, he has had mega hits with his first singles (“Jock it Up” and “Girls Horray”) and has recently been signed to Capitol Records in what has been hailed in the music industry as “historic.” Through it all, Spragga has managed to remain a humble youth with both feet placed firmly on the ground. “I’m just a normal person like everybody else,” he declared.

For Carlos, as he is affectionately called at home, being introduced to Stacy Greenberg from Capitol Records at the Cactus nightclub in Portmore was the first step towards getting signed. Stacy, he said, had heard New York DJ Dahved Levi playing some of his songs and really became inspired. She came to Jamaica in March of last year in search of him; he went to L.A. shortly after, and the rest, they say, is history. Continue reading

INNER CIRCLE GRAMMY NOD V13#2 1995

2019 UPDATE: Congratulations to brothers Ian and Roger Lewis, co-founders of the Grammy-winning band Inner Circle, on receiving Jamaica’s Order of Distinction (the government’s sixth-highest civic honor) at a King’s House ceremony on October 21, 2019, in Kingston. Honored for Inner Circle’s more than 50-year musical contributions, their iconic lead singer Jacob Miller was also recognized and awarded, and his son Taki Miller accepted posthumously on his behalf.

Here is a Reggae Report interview and story by writer and editor Sara Gurgen after catching up with bandleader Roger Lewis following Inner Circle’s 1994 Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album (they won that Grammy in 1993!)

INNER CIRCLE – Miami’s “Bad Boys” Nominated for ’94 Grammy

by Sara Gurgen

They won the Grammy for best 1993 Reggae album, and now Inner Circle–Miami’s world-famous, hard-working “Bad Boys” of Reggae–have been nominated for the 1994 Grammy with their latest Big Beat/Atlantic release, Reggae Dancer.

“It’s doing excellent, man, everywhere in the world; and when I mean excellent, I mean excellent,” said band leader and rhythm guitarist, Roger Lewis, in a recent Miami interview during a brief respite from Inner Circle’s hectic touring schedule.

“It is one of the biggest selling foreign albums in Japan. Over 300,000 albums [have sold] in Japan [as of Dec. 21]. Hundreds of thousands in Mexico. In Brazil, in Europe–very well. In America, it’s not doing too bad. I think we made it up to about 200,000 copies.”

One of the songs on the album that has been released worldwide and doing very well is “Games People Play.” “It was not really a success in America, but ‘Games People Play’ was literally a hit single everywhere else in the world,” explained Roger. “It was a top 10 song in about 10 countries in Europe. It didn’t really go No. 1 and do what “Sweat” did, but it was top 10 in Holland, in Germany, in Scandinavia, in Brazil; and it was No. 1 in Japan.” Continue reading

Capleton – The Prophet “Pon Tour” V13#1 1995

CAPLETON  – THE PROPHET ‘PON “TOUR”

by Patricia Meschino    V13#1 1995

The imposing stage at Jamworld, St. Catherine, Jamaica, the largest open-air entertainment center in the Caribbean and occasional home of Sting and former home of Reggae Sunsplash, is a challenge for any musical artist. When an entertainer fails to meet audience expectations there, the repercussions are greatly magnified; but when an artist delivers spectacularly, the effects seem to reverberate all the way to the island’s north coast!

While Sunsplash ’94 was, as a whole, not as successful as previous years, the five-day event nonetheless produced some unforgettable musical moments that are still being talked about. On Dancehall Night, the performance most “Splashers” are still raving about came from Capleton.

V13#1 1995

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Inner Circle – ’94 Grammy Nomination – V13#02 1995

Miami’s “Bad Boys” Nominated for ’94 Grammy
by Sara Gurgen

They won the Grammy for best 1993 Reggae album, and now Inner Circle–Miami’s world famous, hard-working “Bad Boys” of Reggae–have been nominated for the 1994 Grammy with their latest Big Beat/Atlantic release, Reggae Dancer.

“It’s doing excellent, man, everywhere in the world; and when I mean excellent, I mean excellent,” said band leader and rhythm guitarist, Roger Lewis, in a recent Miami interview during a brief respite from Inner Circle’s hectic touring schedule. “It is one of the biggest selling foreign albums in Japan. Over 300,000 albums [have sold] in Japan [as of Dec. 21]. Hundreds of thousands in Mexico. In Brazil, in Europe–very well. In America, it’s not doing too bad. I think we made it up to about 200,000 copies.”

INNER CIRCLE
INNER CIRCLE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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