While black male reggae artists have dominated reggae music for decades, their female counterparts have also played a significant role in bringing the rhythm to you.
From Marcia Griffiths to Sister Carol to modern-day Koffee, women have played a crucial role in shaping the sound and message of reggae music. Here’s a list of the top 6 female reggae artists you should know.
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Top Female Reggae Artists You Should Know
Like Jamaican singers, Marcia started singing as a teenager. She made remarkable hits with her debut album Feel Like Jumping.
She moved to Harry J. Records and released her cover of the Beatles’ Don’t Let Me Down. Marcia partnered with a soulful singer called Bob Andy. They released Young, Gifted and Black in 70s, which became a hit in the UK and sold in the US. The duo also released Pied Piper and Reay Together.
This female reggae singer later joined the I-Threes, who toured the world in support of Bob Marley. She continues to record her songs including:
She was born Carol Theresa East, in Kingston, Jamaica. She inherited her passion for music from her father, an engineer for Radio Jamaica. Sister Carol is one of the most successful female reggae artists in the world.
She relocated to New York in 1973 and released Liberation for Africa, her first in 1983. Her song, Oh Jah from her second album became a popular hit, bringing her to the limelight. Her fame and growth helped her form her record label.
Some of her songs you can dance to include:
You may think only men make top reggae artists, but women like Janet Kay bring balance to the musical genre. She started singing in her local church as a young girl in London.
Janet was also called the Queen of Lovers Rock because of her hit song, Silly Games.
She was the first black British-born female to top the UK charts with her classic. The female reggae artist continues to release classic reggae tunes, including:
Janet Kay is the founding member of BiBi Crew, Britain’s first theatre troupe made entirely of black women to support aspiring black female artists.
Although she didn’t find it easy coming to the limelight, Penn is one of the incredible female reggae artists blessing the world with her startling voice. After a few renditions of reggae songs, Penn released You Don’t Love Me, her cover for Willie Cobb’s blues record. This song introduced her to the world in 1966.
Originally from Jamaica, Penn faced some difficulties and left the music scene until the 1990s when she released a new version of You Don’t Love Me. She would later receive recognition as one of the greatest female reggae artists. Some of her songs include
Millie Small was one of the talented reggae artists from Jamaica. She was born Millicent Dolly May Small. She was the first female international pop star in Jamaica following her music career. Millie was first working with StudioOne until she caught the attention of a businessman and producer, Chris Blackwell, who helped her launch on the international scene.
She’s best known for her hit song My Boy Lollipop, which ranked number two in the UK in 1964.
Her songs include:
Koffee is a reggae and pop artist who came to the limelight through her tribute song to the fastest Olympian man, Usain Bolt. The song, Legend, released in 2017 went viral on social media after Bolt heard and responded to it. She started her music by writing lyrics and singing I church choir.
She was born Mikayla Victoria Simpson; she would later release Rapture, produced by Columbia Records, in 2019. The song won her a Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album, making her the youngest to receive the award in that category.
Her songs include:
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Female reggae artists are not as popular as their male counterparts; however, a few have been consistent in producing incredible music since the 60s. Make time and listen to their incredible dancehall music.
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