Reggae MUSIC: Marcia Griffiths Sings ‘Gypsy Man’
Marcia Griffiths began performing live in Kingston, Jamaica as an early teenager in the 1960s, and her inspirational shows quickly incited a music industry feeding frenzy to sign her.
At the age of fifteen, her father struck a deal for her with famed Record Producer Clement ‘Coxsone’ Dodd from Studio One. Coxsone immediately arranged for her to record duets with both Tony Gregory and Bob Marley, but the first of her future hits wouldn’t come until several years later.
One of Studio One’s top singers/songwriters/producers, Bob Andy, took an interest in her, and the two recorded and performed many songs together, spawning hits that enjoyed great commercial success in Jamaica. In 1970, the two released Nina Simone’s ‘Young, Gifted and Black‘, and it topped the Jamaican charts, and also spent twelve weeks in the UK’s Top 5.
In 1974, she recorded a rendition of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Gypsy Woman’, entitled ‘Gypsy Man’, for her Sweet Bitter Love album. This album would be her last solo effort for some time to come. She and her two female vocalists, Rita Marley — wife of Bob Marley — and Judy Mowatt, performed in New Kingston that summer, and Bob Marley was so blown away by the performance that he invited the three to sing harmonies for him as members of the Wailers.
Marcia, Rita and Judy became known as Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, and Marcia would continue recording and performing with Marley from 1974 until his tragic death in 1981.
From child sensation, to a successful adult recording artist, to a member of Bob Marley’s ‘I Threes’, to pursuing a successful solo career afterwards, Marcia Griffiths is often dubbed as the ‘Queen of Reggae’.
Gypsy Man is a song that not only illustrates her beautiful voice, but exemplifies the amazing reggae renditions of American soul music being recorded in Jamaica at that time.