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, she became a singer with Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and later signed a record deal with Coxsone Dodd’s famous Studio One.
Her first major hit was the 1967 single Feel Like Jumping, a Bob Andy composed rock steady number that hit the top of the charts in Jamaica and Great Britain; and she would also enjoy further chart success with other 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 huge step when she moved to Harry Johnson’s Trojan-affiliated Harry J label and teamed up with her mentor and songwriter – former Paragons member – Bob Andy as Bob and Marcia. Their recording of the Nina Simone’s classic Young, Gifted and Black became a blockbuster international hit in 1970.
The duo hit the charts again in 1971 with The Pied Piper 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 with Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt, and after making their debut with Marley on the groundbreaking album Natty Dread, they became an integral part of the Bob Marley & the Wailers on-stage and in the studio until Marley’s death in 1981.
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 boosted by the exciting video, became a massive hit and perennial favorite …. establishong 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 rock reggae to fiery dancehall sides …. dueting with the likes of Buju Banton (Woman No Fret) , and Cutty Ranks (Half Idiot).
She 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, Everywhere, Land Of Love, I Shall Sing and duets All My Life with DaVille and Live On with Beres Hammond.
Marcia delivered the performance of a lifetime at the Kingston staging of the still talked about Startime in January; and once again is set to electrify the Startime massive and “truly” represent her gender, and reggae music in fine style when she takes the Startime stage at the Juici Patties Verandah in Clarendon Park on Saturday July 2 … along with an outstanding line up of ska, rock steady and reggae stars including the Clarendon Connection of Freddie McGregor, King of Ska Derrick Morgan and the Clarendonians; Leroy ‘Heptones’ Sibbles, 80s superstar Frankie Paul, Horace Andy, The Mighty Diamonds, Errol Dunkley, Johnny ‘Hit Machine’ Clarke and 70s ace DJ Dillinger all backed by the Startime Orchestra Lloyd Parks & We The People.
This Clarendon edition of Startime presented by Juici Patties and The Verandah in association with Kool 97FM, Jamaica Observer, On Stage TV, Singer, TVJ, Sparkles Productions, Seals & Engravables, Devon Bourne’s Rubis HWT, Irie FM, CPTC, Mello FM,
Christar Villas Hotel, Kingston Hireage, Happy Ice, A & E Ambulance, Securipro Security, and Interlinc Communications – host of the official Startime website at startime.com.jm.
Knutsford Express has joined the Startime team in a major way, providing shuttle service (inclusive of ticket to Startime) from all their locations in Jamaica – Montego Bay, Falmouth, Ocho Rios, Kingston, Mandeville, Gutters, Savlamar and Negril … call 971-1822 / 960-5499 for details and costs and reservations.
Tickets go on sale May 16 at all 62 Juici Patties outlets across Jamaica; Manchester Golf Club in Mandeville; in Kingston at Mary Brown’s Texaco Grab ‘N’ Go, Devon Bourne’s Rubis HWT, Derrick Harriott Twin Gates Plaza; and at Portmore Mall Pharmacy
Startime tickets :
$7,000 all-inclusive VIP (meal and drinks)
$2,000 – General admission pre-sale
$2,500 – General admission at the gate