Throughout my musical career I have been influenced by many great artists. There are those who sing out in rebellion. Also those who wish to spread love all over the world.
I have compiled my list of top reggae artist, reggae queens. My list of reggae queens is based on what I feel they have contributed to the field of reggae music.
Let me know if you agree with my choices. Who would you have in your top ten list of reggae queens?
In no particular order, I proudly present:
ROYAL QUEENS OF REGGAE
First on my list of Reggae Queens, Queen Marcia, what a wonderful amazing lady you are! What an ambassador, role model, icon, mother and friend. Overall such a beautiful spirit. Reggae’s most famous female singer is also a member of the ‘I threes’. The I Threes backed our prophet Bob Marley. Marcia’s career spans most of the life time of our music. From ‘Young Gifted and Black’ till today. Her amazing talent continues on and on….
Reggae Queen Marcia Griffiths; we salute you!
Reggae Queen Marcia, has spanned over 50 years. She started her career in Jamaica at an early age. Both Marcia’s parents were musical and she sang in the church choir. She took part in a tv talent show. This led to a duet performance with Bryon Lee & the Dragonaires. Marcia signed a recording contract with Studio One.
In 1982 Marcia released her hit song Electic boogie. It topped the Jamaican and international charts. This led to the creation of the electric slide dance craze.
Marcia has two children, Errol Thompson Jr and stepson, Mathew Thompson aka Esco. Esco is an artist and producer.
Marcia has a passion for cooking. She is also quite adept on the piano. Marcia is renown for her distinctive head wraps and hats.
Born: 18th April 1941 – 19th October 2000
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Hortense Ellis is the sister of the legendary Alton Ellis. Hortense was one of the very first female reggae artistes. Hortense may not be known to the younger generation but deserves her place amongst our Reggae Queens. She set the standard and paved the way for the young Marcia Griffiths and many other female singers of that time.
Reggae Queen Hortense Ellis; we salute you!
Hortense Ellis, came from a musical background. She was the younger sister of legendary reggae singer Alton Ellis. Hortense grew up in Jamaica from humble beginnings. She began singing from a young age. She entered a reggae talent show and her reggae career began. Hortense quotes
“I’m the very first female singer in Jamaica. I’ve been through the R&B, rocksteady, and ska eras. I was the first female reggae voice heard on the radio all over the island”.
Hortense Ellis also gained the award ‘The First Lady Of Song’ in 1964. Her biggest hit was “Unexpected Places”.
Hortense suffered serious health problems in the 90’s and returned to Jamaica from Miami.
Born: 6th October 1946 (rest date: Unconfirmed)
Birthplace: Clarendon, Jamaica
Our first international female champion even before the great king Bob Marley. One of our greatest Ambassadors. One of our greatest Queens. She rose to fame very young. She took the world by storm with the anthem ‘My Boy Lollipop’. She deserved all the accolade that was bestowed on her.
Reggae Queen Millie Small; we salute you!
Millie Small, born in Jamaica was daughter to a sugar plantation overseer. She was one of the original female singers in early ska music. Millie recorded in her teens for Sir Coxone Dodd’s Studio One label, with Roy Panton (duo Roy & Millie). Millie’s distinctive girly voice stood out. In 1963 Chris Blackwell discovered her talent and brought Millie to the UK. (Chris Blackwell is the founder of Island Records. He also introduced the world to Bob Marley). Millie recorded her one hit wonder single at 17 with “My boy lollipop”(1964). Thereafter went on to international fame, topping the billboards.
Born: 27th December 1944 – 15th April 2004
Birthplace: Linstead, St Catherine, Jamaica
Queen Phyliss, I describe as ‘the voice’. She is a truly great singer, with a touch of magic! Her beautiful range of love songs will live forever in my heart. A true professional and a very nice person. Her contribution to reggae music has been invaluable.
Reggae Queen Phillis Dillion; we salute you!
Phyllis Dillion was born in 1944. She is hailed as one of the forerunners in early reggae music. Phyllis started singing in school, concerts, and church. She entered talent shows, then progressed to Duke Reid’s studio. Phyliss became popular in the 60’s with ska hits ‘Don’t Stay Away’, ‘Perfidia’ and ‘Don’t touch me tomatoe”. She wrote the lyrics to ‘Rock steady’. She also performed a duet with reggae legend Alton Ellis.
Due to unfortunate financial difficulties, Phyliss decided to leave the music industry. She travelled to New York. However frequently returned to Jamaica to perform. During the 90’s she toured the US, Japan and Europe. Phyliss Dillon has two children, Nigel and Janice.
Birthplace: Gordon town, Jamaica
Queen Judy Mowatt is famed for her beautiful rendition of the reggae classic ‘Black Woman’. A beautiful songstress giving upliftment to women, at a time when they need a song to sing. Judy was also a part of the famous ‘I threes’. The I threes were Bob Marley’s backing singers. A great voice and a true stalwart of our music. Maybe even the most spiritual of the queens! Judy touches the hearts of her audiences. Her songs resonate with the black woman and their continued struggles. Her word is ‘LOVE’.
Reggae Queen Judy Mowatt; we salute you!
Judy Mowatt was born and raised in Jamaica. She began singing in the choir. In her early teens she joined a dance group. With them she toured the Caribbean. This led to the formation of a vocal group.
In 1970’s the band disbanded. Following this Mowatt recorded several songs under pseudonyms. Record producer Coxson Dodd invited Judy to sing background vocal with ‘two people’. Judy quotes “I had no idea it would be Rita Marley and Marcia Griffiths”. This propelled Judy’s career. She became a member of the backing vocal trio to Bob Marley, ‘The I Threes’.
Judy became the first female singer nominated for a Grammy Award in reggae music. This was for her Working Wonders album in 1985.
Judy Mowatt was a member of the Rastafarian movement. In the 1990s she converted to Christianity. She now sings Reggae Gospel Music.
Birthplace: Colonels Ridge, Clarendon, Jamaica
Next on my list of Reggae Queens, Carlene Davis. She is another one of our great female singers. More famed for her gospel music. Her songs depict her Christian way of life. Carlene’s beautiful voice and ever present elegance has transcended over the years. Her contribution to reggae music is admired around the world.
Reggae Queen Carlene Davis; we salute you!
Queen Carlene Davis was born in Clarendon, Jamaica. She was brought to England in her early teens. Carlene sang in the church choir. She also played the guitar. Later she joined a pop group called the Toreadores.
Carlene emigrated to Canada. In 1980 she returned to Jamaica to continue her reggae career working for VP records. She performed in the 1981 ‘Reggae Sunsplash’ festival. Carlene ’s smooth sweet vocals enabled her to work with musical icons from multiple genres. Such as, The Police, Peter Tosh, Aretha Franklin, Rick James, New Edition, James Brown, Toots & The Maytals, Gladys Knight, Melba Moore and the list goes on…
Carlene released a string of hits ; ‘Peace and Love’, ‘Winnie Mandela’, ‘Stealing Love’,’One Day At A Time’ and ‘Stand Up for Jesus’.
Carlene is married to Tommy Cowan. Tommy is a producer/promoter. He is also a former manager to Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Carlene suffered from Cancer. Her illness became a vital factor in changing her musical direction and personal life. In 1995 Carlene became a minister and changed from secular to gospel music. She continues to produce Gospel Reggae.
Born: 22nd May 1983
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
Etana aka Shauna Mckenzie was discovered at eight years old.
Etana moved to America in 1992. She then became a member of the female group ‘Gift’ . Etana joined Universal Music in 2000. She returned to Jamaica to focus on music that reflected her Rastafari principles, a natural and healthy lifestyle. Principles acknowledging the teachings of Marcus Garvey and Emperor Haile Selassie .
Etana successfully auditioned to become one of Richie Spice’s vocalists on his tour of Europe and North America. Etana’s song ‘Wrong Address’ reached number one in the Jamaican charts. In 2008 Etana was nominated for the ‘Best Reggae’ category at the MOBO Awards.
Born: 1953 – 11th June 2005
Birthplace: Kingston, Jamaica
VINCE TO ADD
Reggae Queen Jennifer Lara was born in Jamaica. She is the cousin of Derrick Lara. Derrick Lara is part of the world renown group ‘The Tamlins’. A keyboard player Richard Ace brought her to Studio One in 1969 after leaving school. Jennifer joined Studio One (owner Sir Coxsone Dodd) in 1969.
Born: 7th June 1952
Birthplace: Newton, Saint Elizabeth, Jamaica
Reggae Queen Lorna Bennett has one of the most famous songs in the history of reggae music. ‘Breakfast in Bed’ had a phenomenal impact throughout the world. The legacy of that song continues to this very day. Lorna Bennett is one of the unsung female singers of our generation. In addition to being a great artiste, Lorna practices law.
Reggae Queen Lorna Bennett; we salute you!
Reggae legend Lorna Bennett was born in Jamaica. Her musical journey began as a child. She performed in the school band and performed in nightclubs. Lorna received international fame for her reggae version of Dusty Springfield’s ‘Breakfast In Bed’ in 1972. She went on to record several more singles whilst pursuing a career in law. Lorna eventually left the music business to become a lawyer in Jamaica.
The musical legacy continues in Lorna’s family. Her son ‘Protoje’ has also established a successful career in reggae music.
Born: 25th March 1975
Birthplace: Montego Bay, Jamaica
Reggae royalty indeed! Queen Ifrica; we refer to her as the ‘Fire Mamma’. An artist who cares passionately about the people of Jamaica. She cares passionately about her beautiful island. Over and above many others, Queen Ifrica is ‘Mamma Earth’. The contribution she has already made is an integral part of the great resurgence of Jamaica and its people.
Reggae Queen Ifrica; we salute you!
Queen Ifrica is also known as Fyah Muma. She is the daughter of ska reggae legend, Derrick Morgan. Queen Ifrica was born and raised in Jamaica. Her career in Reggae began in 1995. She was inspired by her Rastafarian upbringing. Her songs reflect her faith and her love of her home and her people. Her dancehall style omits any negative representations. Instead she sings about real matters of the heart.
Born: 12th April 1948 – 25th February 1999
Birthplace: Trenchtown, Saint Andrew, Jamaica
Cynthia Schloss is ‘Jamaica’s songbird’. The veteran reggae singer began singing at a young age. She performed around the hotel circuits. She has continued her reggae music journey for over 25 years.
Cynthia Schloss recorded popular reggae hits such as ‘Sad Movies’ (1961), ‘Send Me the Pillow’(1962) and many more.