Queen Marcia Griffiths is unquestionably the best-known and most influential woman in the history of reggae. “Discovered” by the late Phillip “Boasie” James of the Blues Busters who overheard her singing at a friend’s party, she burst on the scene at age 15 when the music was still evolving from its roots in ska and rock steady.
James arranged for her to take part in an upcoming talent competition and after wowing the audience, she was immediately invited to perform on a television variety show the same evening. After this successful debut dinging Carla Thomas’ No Time To Lose, she became a singer with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and was signed to a record deal with Coxone Dodd’s famous Studio One pioneering label.
Her first major hit was the 1967 single Feel Like Jumping, a rock steady number that charted in Jamaica and Great Britain, and she would also enjoy further chart success with Bob Andy compositions “Mark My Word”, “Melody Life” and “Truly” before cutting her first album, “Marcia Griffiths at Studio One”.
In 1969, she made another big step when she moved to Harry Johnson’s Trojan-affiliated Harry J label and teamed up with former Paragons member Bob Andy as Bob and Marcia. Their recording of the Nina Simone’s classic “Young, Gifted and Black“ became a major international hit in 1970. The duo hit the international charts again in 1971 with “The Pied Piper,” and had a magical local hit Always Together, but in 1974 they parted ways and Marcia released her second successful solo album, the outstanding Sweet Bitter Love produced by the late Lloyd Chalmers.
In 1974, after Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingstone left the Wailers, Bob Marley wanted to fill out the vocal sound of the group, and added a trio of female singers to the Wailers’ lineup. Marcia became a member of the I-Threes alongside Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt, and after making their debut with Marley on the groundbreaking album Natty Dread, they were an integral part of the Wailers on-stage and in the studio until Marley’s death in 1981.
During the years 1974 – 1981, Marcia continued to churn out hit after hit
including Play Me, Survival, Peaceful Woman, Stepping Out Of Babylon, Dreamland and Hurting Inside.
The I-Threes also cut a pair of albums on their own after Marley’s passing, Beginning in 1983 and Songs of Bob Marley in 1995. Marcia also continued to record as a solo artist during her down time from the Wailers, cutting a pair of smash albums with producer Sonia Pottinger, “Naturally” in 1978 and “Steppin’ in 1979.
In 1982, the versatile Marcia broke new ground when she cut an uptempo dance tune, “Electric Boogie” written and produced by the legendary Bunny Wailer, which quickly became a major hit in Jamaica. The song gained an unexpected second life in 1989, when a disc jockey in Washington D.C. began spinning the record on a regular basis; the seven-year-old track jumped into the American charts, boosted by radio airplay as well as the growing popularity of the Electric Slide, a dance inspired by the song.
As the Electric Slide became a regular dance feature at parties, weddings and family get-togethers, “Electric Boogie” became a perennial favorite and established Marcia in the United States.
Through the ’90s and into today, Marcia has continued to record and tour internationally on a regular basis, releasing albums and singles that run the gamut from polished love songs to roots reggae to fiery dancehall sides (dueting with the likes of Shaggy, Buju Banton, and Cutty Ranks). She also reunited with Bob Andy for a pair of duet albums, “Really Together” in 1990 and “Sweet Memories” in 1997. Producer Donovan Germaine hit a magical streak in the 90s with Marcia, releasing songs like “Closer to You”, “Fire Burning”, Deep In My Heart”, “Land Of Love” “I Shall Sing” and duets “All My Life” with Daville and “Live On” with Beres Hammond.
Queen Marcia is celebrating 51 years as a Jamaican entertainer, and she will “truly” represent her gender and reggae music generally, in mighty fine style when she takes the Startime stage at the Mas Camp on Saturday January 9, as part of her 51st anniversary world tour.
This is a historic occasion which no true music lover should miss !!
This special staging of the Original Startime is being presented by headline sponsor Monymusk Plantation Rums through their White Overproof, Classic Gold, Special Gold and Whispering Breeze Coconut Rum Brands; in association with Ting, the Jamaica Observer, Kool 97FM and Chung’s Catering Service.
Also on the sponsorship list are On Stage TV, Devon Bourne’s Rubis Service Station, Seals & Engravables, Kingston Hireage, Starlight Productions, Christar Villas Hotel, Creative Training and Production Center (CPTC), Securipro, Happy Ice and Interlinc Communications … host of the startime.com.jm website.