In a prominently male-focused industry, female voices in reggae have nevertheless played a key role in spreading Jamaican vibes throughout the world. Dawn Penn, Marcia Griffiths, Lauryn Hill, Grace Jones, and Sister Nancy are just some of the most obvious names that come to mind when weighing the undeniable impact of the sistas contributing to reggae expansion into the worlds of pop and hip hop, both in Jamaica and abroad.
Millie Smalls’ “My Boy Lollipop” was released in 1963 and is arguably the very first Jamaican-rooted international hit.
Yet the fact remains that the music industry (including the media) seems to have overlooked women’s input and creativity far too much, characterising them as mere stooges and their contributions to reggae as something to spice up male-led productions or vocal performances.
However, the past decade or two seem to have witnessed a great surge in reggae/Jamaican influences in an unlimited variation of successful productions in pop, rock, hip-hop, soul and so on.
An interesting thing to note is that while Jamaican productions today rarely look back in terms of style, and aim to fuel urban trendy street sounds, reggae/rub-a-dub/ska/dub/rock steady etc have all now become international styles, despite whether or not they’d still be trendy enough for today’s Caribbean youth.
For this playlist we deliberately chose to focus on soul artists who express their taste and skill for Jamaican-rooted tracks, and on contemporary Jamaican reggae talents, whose repertoire includes soulful performances. In our humble opinion, the women in both these camps represent the freshest and most delightful bridges that music gives us to cross.
This ‘sorority selection’ hopefully gives the listener an impressive glimpse into quite how varied and meaningful some recent reggae production has been for women recording today.
Very successful and famous artists like Rihanna, Alicia keys, H.E.R. and Janelle Monae are featured alongside the stunning voices of those less well known to the public at large. This is a playlist full of emotion and intensity: love, fun, sex and seduction of course, but also politics. We’ve also included some mind-blowing covers of recent rock classics such as Nirvana’s “Lithium”, Smashing Pumpkins’ “Soma”, and The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”.