Women in Reggae

Many women have made a name for themselves in the male-dominated genre of Reggae music.

Here we speak of some current notables and analyze some of the issues that have always existed. There is always a balance of positive and negative and we touch on that in this Reggae Lover episode.

Reggae Grammy

Of the several female artists that continue to hold their own, here are some highlights:

Etana has produced above average music for at least the past 10 years. She earned a nomination for Best Reggae Album at the upcoming 61st Annual Grammy Awards for her latest project, Reggae Forever. She is the first female nominee in that category since Sister Carol in 1997, and the fourth ever.

Spice became the first reggae artist to cross the 1 million followers mark on Instagram. Known for raunchy lyrics, she ventured into social commentary on her single “Black Hypocrisy.” The song, which tackles the issue of colorism is on her Billboard chart-topping mixtape entitled “Captured.” I hope that Spice tackles more serious issues in the future. She can be a positive influence for young women the way she is controlling the media right now.

Queen Ifrica has wowed audiences at festivals like Rebel Salute and Reggae Sumfest for the past several years. Her songs have broached the toughest topics from incest to skin bleaching. She sings out against crime, unhealthy diets, corruption, and other evils. Queen Ifrica is also well-rounded and able to discuss love and sexuality in tasteful ways.

Leaders of the new school:

Reggae revivalist Jah9 is as refreshing as she is an enigmatic force. She’s a yoga practitioner and poet turned reggae performing artist. Her dancehall career was nurtured by RoryStoneLove who produced her debut album. Jah9’s lyrics are deep, thought-provoking, and meaningful. Her music is powerful yet diverse.

The 17-year-old singer, songwriter, and guitarist, Koffee, emerged as a star in 2018. Her single’s, “Burning,” and “Raggamuffin,” gained local and international attention. Look out for her new hit, “Toast,” which looks to be an even bigger smash.

Lila Ike is one of the protege’s of Grammy-nominated reggae revival leader Protoje. She was a unique style and flair with songs about love and socioeconomic topics.

Twenty-one-year-old Yanah is known as “The Tiny Powerhouse.” With a hand-full of songs released to date, she has captivated listeners. Her delivery is sultry and passionate.

Sevana is another songstress working with Protoje’s In.Digg.Nation Collective record label. She stood out on “A Bit Too Shy” and “Sudden Flight” which featured Jesse Royal. Sevana has an amazing sound – one of the sweetest voices to come out of Jamaica in a long time.

Naomi Cowan came out with a fun 2018 single called “Paradise Plum.” She has an R&B/soul, reggae vibe and is actually the daughter of musician Tommy Cullen and singer Carlene Davis. She spent time in Canada where she went to college and then earned a Masters in digital media. After some time running her parent’s businesses, she has turned her focus to a music career. Look out for big things from Naomi!

women in reggae (2)

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Kristine Alicia‘s 2nd album “Songs from Zion” debuted in 2017. Produced by RoryStoneLove and featuring Dean Fraser, the 11-track album is classic roots reggae with inspirational messages. Kristine’s vocal prowess bolsters the project. Rory’s Black Dub label has been grooming many promising female artists.

The ever-versatile Keida and potent lyricist Karamanti both represent a strong female presence. Their content centers around themes of unity and consciousness. Karamanti launched her own record label, BlackWuman22 Music.

Dancehall artist Dovey Magnum has risen to international fame in the past year. She’s by far one of the most powerful female performers in her class and her talent is undeniable. Her spiritual side is expressed in “Prayers Me Use and Win,” but her more popular anthems are X-rated. Dovey can definitely affect positive change by injecting conscious messages into her music.

Kelissa is the daughter of the lead singers from the foundation group Chakula. She attended University in California where she toured extensively. Kelissa also performed and spent time in Africa gaining notoriety there. She has toured and collaborated with Chronixx in the studio as well.

Other artists mentioned:

Marcia Griffiths, Nadine Sutherland, Tanya Stephens, Lady Saw (Marion Hall), Lady Ann, Lady G, Sister Nancy, Sister Charmaine, and Shensea.

The challenges:

There are many other female artists out right whose music is only about sex and sexuality. Their music gets to the forefront in the major media channels more often than not. Selectors and radio disc jockeys have been doing more following than innovating. Their playlists feature the same raunchy songs, with few attempts to introduce more diverse subject matter. It seems quite difficult to get played as a new performer. This only entices young upcoming women to embrace the same age-old cliche – sex sells.

Spice, who many refer to as the new Queen of Dancehall signed her record deal in 2009. Since then, her label has failed to release a full-length studio album of her songs. We dissect this issue trying to figure out how this could even happen.

With this climate how can new female artists get discovered while avoiding exploitation? How can we achieve more balance on the lineups of shows and concerts? How can radio, dancehall, and mixtape playlists become more diverse? How can reggae music, a genre that once stood as a voice for the voiceless embrace its own women? How can we become less hypocritical as an industry and as a society?

In this, the age of the #metoo movement, and “Surviving R. Kelly,” it is imperative that we protect and support our women. This discussion may pose more questions than answers, but it spawns a dialogue that needs to be had.

Add the names of female artists that should have been highlighted in this piece (tag them in the comments). Do you agree or disagree with the statements we have made? Do you have an answer to the questions posed? Let us know. Thanks for listening, reading, and sharing. This is dedicated to you. #reggaelover 

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What everybody ought to know about Buju Banton

In this first episode for the 2019 Reggae Lover season, we discuss Jamaican icon, Buju Banton, also known as Gargamel.

Buju returned to Jamaica in early December after serving seven years in a US prison on drug charges.

We offer facts about Buju Banton before and after his incarceration. We also examine some of the news circulating about his upcoming appearances and discuss his phenomenal legacy.

Reggae Lover is a podcast that pulls back the curtain on the issues, insights, back-stories, and adventures of the biggest names in reggae. Discussions of the culture, economics and all things relatable to reggae lovers.

Hosted by Award-winning radio presenter and top-rated selector Kahlil Wonda and AGARD, co-founders of Highlanda Sound.

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Reggae Lover Podcast (2019 Season)

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Who are the best Non-Jamaican Reggae Artists?

This Reggae Lover Podcast Episode (118) highlights the global reggae phenomenon. Take a listen – Full Show notes below.

The global reggae phenomenon is highlighted in this Reggae Lover Podcast Episode. Full show notes: highlanda.net/2018/10/08/non-jam…an-reggae-artists/  Nasio Fontaine was born on the Caribbean island of Dominica to a Carib Indian mother and Father of African descent.  Alpha Blondy was born in the Ivory Coast to a Muslim father and a Christian mother.  Joe Pilgrim and the Ligerians. Benin-born singer Joe Pilgrim spent his childhood in France.  Lucky Dube was a multi-platinum, award-winning South African Rastafarian reggae artist.  Midnite, a roots reggae band from St. Croix, US Virgin Islands.  J Boog was born of Samoan ancestry in Long Beach, California but grew up mostly in Compton. He went to Hawaii in the 2000’s and launched his singing career fusing reggae, R&B, hip-hop, and rock.  Collie Budz was raised in Bermuda

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Nasio Fontaine was born on the Caribbean island of Dominica to a Carib Indian mother and Father of African descent. He later moved to St. Maarten where he became influenced by Rastafari and reggae artists such as Burning Spear and Bob Marley. He recorded his first single in 1986 and has since released 5 albums to critical acclaim. He has performed at festivals in Africa and the UK.

 

Alpha Blondy was born in the Ivory Coast to a Muslim father and a Christian mother. He sings for unity and peace between all religions. He has recorded reggae music in English, French, Baoule, Hebrew, Arabic, Ashanti, Dioula, Malinke, and Wolof. He recorded with the Wailers at Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica. He has worked with Sly and Robbie among other international musicians. From 1982 until now, he toured Europe and Africa and is known by his fans as “The Bob Marley of Africa.” He received a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album in 2003.

 

Joe Pilgrim and the Ligerians. Benin-born singer Joe Pilgrim spent his childhood in France.

 

Lucky Dube was a multi-platinum, award-winning South African Rastafarian reggae artist. He recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English, and Afrikaans over a 25 year period. Lucky Dude toured the world sharing stages with the likes of Sting and Sinead O’Connor. He appeared at the 1991 Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica. Dube gave Africa a voice and took its culture to the global stage. He raised conversations about the struggles faced by the people in his homeland. He will be remembered and honored for his contributions made to South Africa, bringing African reggae to the mainstream, and bridging cultural gaps throughout the diaspora.

 

Midnite was a roots reggae band from St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. The band was started around 1989 by brothers Vaughn and Ron Benjamin and released its debut album in 1997. The Benjamin brothers went their separate ways at some point and the group reformed in 2015 around Vaughn Benjamin as Akae Beka. Reggae news website Midnight Raver referred to Midnite as “the most referred, influential, and prolific reggae act in two decades.”

 

J Boog was born of Samoan ancestry in Long Beach, California but grew up mostly in Compton. He went to Hawaii in the 2000’s and launched his singing career fusing reggae, R&B, hip-hop, and rock. His 2nd of 3 full-length albums rose to the top of the US Reggae Albums charts in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

 

Collie Budz was raised in Bermuda but was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to a Jamaican mother and Bermudian father. I included songs by Pressure Buss Pipes from the US Virgin Islands. Khari Kill and Zebulun hailing from Trinidad and Tobago are showcased.

 

Natural Blacks, the Guyanese-born reggae singer delivered some solid hits.

 

Stick Figure is an American reggae band based in Northern California. E.N Young from South of San Diego California near the Mexican border, former lead singer in the group Tribal Seeds.

 

The Simpkin Project, a reggae rock band from Huntington Beach, California contributes to the mix.

 

Hear songs from Katchafire, a New Zealand roots reggae band and City Kay, a French reggae band.

 

Matisyahu is a Jewish American reggae singer, rapper, and musician from Pennsylvania who grew up in White Plains, New York. He is known for blending Orthodox Jewish themes with reggae and rap. In 2006 Matisyahu was named Top Reggae Artist by Billboard.

 

“Rock right through Electric Avenue,” the biggest hit single by Eddy Grant who was born in Guyana and later moved to England and then Barbados.

 

Mista Savona is Australia’s leading reggae and dancehall producer. Listen for his collaboration with Julito Pardon, a Trumpet player from Havana, Cuba. The single is featured on the album “Havana meets Kingston” released by VP Records.

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Gregory Isaacs Roots Reggae Mix | Reggae Lover Podcast 117

This episode features roots reggae songs from the Gregory Isaacs catalog. I chose to curate his songs about the reality of everyday life and the strife of poor people.

HIGHLANDA SOUND #Reggae 117 - Reggae Lover - GREGORY ISAACS RAGGAMUFFIN ROOTS MIX

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Gregory Isaacs was born in Jamaica on July 15, 1951. He made his debut in 1968 with a recording for Byron Lee. He then started the African Museum record label and shop along with Errol Dunkley. Isaacs recorded for other producers as well. His single ‘My Only Lover,’ is credited as the first lover’s rock song ever.
 
He released music throughout the 70s. In 1978 he signed to the Virgin Records offshoot call Frontline records. That led to his appearance in the movie “Rockers.” He also opened a record shop called Cash & Carry in Kingston. He performed yearly at Reggae Sunsplash from 1981 to 1991.
 
In 1982 he signed to Island Records and released the massive single, “Night Nurse.” Isaacs was only challenged by Dennis Brown and Bob Marley in touring. Gregory recorded and released at least 70 original studio albums. He has over 500 albums including compilations. He maintained an amazing standard of quality in most of his recorded songs.
 
Gregory Isaacs was nominated for four Grammy Awards, the last of which in 2010 and 2011. One of the things associated with Isaacs was cocaine use. He had many arrests during the years that he battled with addiction.
 
When you listen to this mix compared to my lover’s rock mix (Episode 116), you can sense a different vibration. Gregory’s passionate lyrical delivery on social issues is very believable. He passed away in 2010 to lung cancer.
 
I would love to hear what you think about this singer – the musical giant known as “The Cool Ruler.” Comment here, tweet @ReggaeLoverPod, or send an email to reggaeloverpodcast@gmail.com.

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