This installment of "Best of The Beat" is a glimpse into a moment in history—1985—in which we celebrated the outstanding female voices of reggae music. Jamaica is, and probably will always be, a patriarchal society, but at this point in time the rise of women within the genre had become a notable, positive development. This featured story, “Reggae Women: Stepping Forward” was part of an entire issue devoted to women in the worlds of reggae and Rastafari.
Probably the best-known among Jamaica’s female singers is the trio called the I Three, who sang harmony vocals for Bob Marley and the Wailers from 1974 until Marley’s death in 1981. Marcia Griffiths, Judy Mowatt and Rita Marley all had successful professional solo careers before joining up with the Wailers.
Also featured in this article are Sister Carol, who performs in a conscious DJ style; Puma Jones, the female member of Black Uhuru; a British group named Abacush, made up mostly of women; and the venerable “mother of them all,” Miss Lou (Louise Bennett), poet, folklorist and national treasure of Jamaica.
Also included in this feature is a select discography, circa 1985, of reggae music by women; and a review by Roger Steffens of dub poet Mutabaruka’s production titled Women Talk, featuring recordings all written and performed by women.
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