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Reggae MUSIC: Marcia Griffiths Sings ‘Gypsy Man’

by on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 1:02 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

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.



LISTEN: Reggae Great Delroy Wilson Sings ‘This Life Makes Me Wonder’

by on Monday, March 7, 2011 at 1:01 pm EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Music

In 1961, a thirteen year old Delroy Wilson began his music career in Kingston, Jamaica, recording ska hits penned by Lee “scratch” Perry, Coxsone Dodd, amongst others. His music evolved with the sounds of 60’s Jamaica from ska to rocksteady and eventually to reggae. By the late-60s/early-70s he was one of the most influential reggae recording stars on the island.

He first toured the U.K. in 1970, where British reggae label Trojan Records had him record a number of songs — a move that would help him to expand his European footprint.

By the mid-70s many British punks, including The Clash’s Joe Strummer, counted themselves as Delroy Wilson fans. Strummer, at the time, attended a reggae concert at the Hammersmith Palais to see Wilson and fellow Kingston musicians Dillinger and Leroy Smart perform. Expecting a rebellious ‘roots reggae’ performance, Strummer felt disappointed by their sets, claiming them to be “all very Vegas.”

British film director and musician Don Letts, who attended the show with Strummer, reflected on the evening: “I think that show was an eye opener for [Strummer], realizing that all these people were trying to get out of the ghetto roots life.”

The event inspired Strummer to pen the lyrics for one of The Clash’s biggest hits: “White Man In Hammersmith Palais.” In it you can hear Strummer shout out “Delroy Wilson, your cool operator.”

Wilson died at the age of 46 on March 6, 1995 of cirrhosis of the liver. He is often noted for his soulful vocals and melancholy lyrics. Of his many great songs, one of my personal favorites is his 1968 recording, “This Life Makes Me Wonder.” The lyrics are simple, yet strangely haunting, and the music is just so damned melodic:

This life makes me wonder
how to live another day to come
This life makes me wonder
how to live another day to come

I feel the strong of the hand of one that I was depending on

It takes a friend… to be a friend

It takes a friend… to stop a friend



Delroy Wilson’s greatest hits album, Once Upon A Time, which features this song, can be downloaded here: