Boomkat Product Review:
Soul Jazz’ long out of print classic ‘Studio One Women’ collection re-released as a new 18th Anniversary edition.
"Ska, rocksteady, funky reggae, roots, dub mixes, disco mixes - they’re all here from the queens of the Jamaican music scene - ‘Studio One Women’ features a wide mix of classics and obscurities from the finest female voices in reggae. Until now most of these tracks have only ever been available as extremely hard to find Jamaican 7” and 12” singles, and even if you were lucky enough to find them, they’d cost you a small fortune. Marcia Griffiths and Rita Marley (here with her first group, The Soulettes, whose iconic image features on the cover) are two of Jamaica’s most famous female singers, hugely popular today. Both artists became internationally famous as The I - Threes (along with Judy Mowatt), Bob Marley’s backing singers alongside The Wailers. Also featured are Hortense Ellis, sister of Alton, who cut many smash hits on the island, and Jennifer Lara, a lady who had a long career with Studio One, singing on countless sides.
‘Studio One Women’ refers not just to the small selection of artists featured here but also to those who took integral roles throughout the Studio One empire, starting with Doris Darlington, mother of Clement Dodd. Sir Coxsone’s Downbeat Soundsystem, which ruled the dancehalls of Kingston throughout the 1950s and 60s, started off as the musical entertainment for customers of Mrs Darlington’s Nannys Bar. Clement Dodd often referred to his mother as ‘Jamaica’s first female DJ’, as she would play records at the bar whenever he was on trips to the US, hunting down R&B records. Other important women behind the scenes included Norma Dodd (wife of Clement), whose sleevenotes featured on many Studio One releases, and Enid Cumberland who, as well as being a successful artist (half of the duo Keith and Enid), taught harmony in the studio and ran the studio shop. It would also be impossible not to mention Sister Ignatius, who ran the infamous Alpha Boys School for over 50 years, encouraging students which included Tommy McCook, Johnny ‘Dizzy’ Moore, Lester Sterling and Don Drummond, Theo Beckford, Cedric Brooks, Johnny Osbourne and countless other musicians and artists to excel at music, and many of whom became integral to the success of Studio One."