Interviewed by M. Peggy Quattro
Written by Sara Gurgen
The talented ladies in Reggae have historically taken a back seat to the popularity of their numerous male counterparts. A handful of singers, and even fewer DJs, have held their ground and withstood the test of time.
Not to be outdone by the current crop of new lady DJs, the lovely and talented Lady G has consistently proved that she is not yet ready to be considered among the “dead and gone.” The sweet appearance of Lady G does not belie her steely interior, and the Spanish Town-born DJ has taken her shot at macho males with her latest sizzling releases. Lady G, who has seen a great response to her hit song “Me or the Gun,” a demand that her man chooses between which one “gives more fun,” is now coming in strong with her latest song “If I was a Gal.”
“You’ve got guys who call women gals; that’s not the right way for a man to style [call] a woman,” said Lady G following her terrific performance inside Ft. Lauderdale’s Reggae Cafe. Referring to her new song, she goes on to explain: “It’s not the name they should call the women. In some countries–like Trinidad–they call their women gal. It’s not the name that they call the women, it’s the way they express it.” Lady G is telling the men that if they want to get a woman’s attention, these days, that’s not the way to do it. Continue reading →
Judy Mowatt – Leading the Charge of Sisterhood 1996
By Howard Campbell. V14#5
A visitor to Judy Mowatt’s home is in for a fairly long walk before he or she reaches the spacious front porch which houses a piano. Mowatt’s not pounding the keys today; she’s enjoying some peace and quiet at the back of the home near the hills of St. Andrew, Jamaica, not too far away from where she was born in the small village of Gordon Town.
An admitted lover of the soil, Mowatt’s cozy back room hideaway is surrounded by a small farm of sugarcane and bananas. Gospel music wafts through the air as she appears, barefoot and bareheaded, her locks complimenting her African-style blouse. A photo of Emperor Haile Selassie greets you upon entering, with another postcard-sized photo of the Wailers, circa the Uprising album, occupying one of the shelves of a nearby cabinet.
Just over ten years ago, June Carol Lodge (JC to her fans) burst onto the local and international music scene. For someone who had never even considered singing as a career, her entry into the music business seemed like something out of a fairy tale.
After a chance meeting with “Allah” of Chalice fame, she got an audition with top producer Joe Gibbs who liked her voice. JC recorded a cover version of Charley Pride’s “Someone Loves You Honey” and the record went straight to the top of the Jamaican charts.
The success story didn’t end there. “Honey” took off in a big way in Europe, racing into the top ten charts in Germany and Belgium and going to Number One in Holland. The LP of the same name also went to Number One. JC was able to tour extensively in the wake of her chart success, both in Europe and North America. Continue reading →
On Thursday, October 9, 1986, Rita Marley, member of the I-Three; [and] Ziggy, Cedella, and Steve Marley of the Melody Makers, hosted a press conference at their Marcus Garvey Drive head office to review their successful “Hey World” tour and discuss plans for the future.
The tour, which featured the Melody Makers, the I-Three, Nadine Sutherland, and the 809 Band, covered some 22 North American cities with a unique blend of Reggae tradition, experience and youth they will not forget for a long time to come.
One newspaper review, in fact, said that “he (Ziggy) and three acts from the Tuff Gong label… carried the people with them on a journey through the Reggae world, which the elder Marley carved for his own.” Continue reading →
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.
Born 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 →
Nadine Sutherland Brings the Vibes to Vibes Nightclub
July 3, 2008 – Decatur, GA – She was witty, energetic, sexy, inspiring, professional, warm, charming and extremely entertaining as this true princess of Reggae music continued her love affair with what some call the fastest growing Caribbean community outside of the Caribbean, Georgia. Nadine Sutherland came, she entertained and she conquered!
The Reggae Dancehall star, TV star (Rising Star) and journalist went through her hits like; “Action”, “Babyface”, “I’m In Love (Rainbow)”, “Anything For You”, “Big Tingz” and more. From the moment she stepped on stage at the Vibes Night Club in Decatur Georgia, the air was filled with electricity, and the venue was filled with energy. Sutherland commanded the stage as she bounced and danced all over the stage, never missing a beat, always hitting the right notes and exciting the crowd with her great performance. Continue reading →
(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.