In her teens
Judy Mowatt joined a dance troupe that toured the
. There sh
et up with Beryl Lawson and Merle Clemonson, with whom she formed the
Gaylettes (aka the Gaytones). Together they backed many artists on
releases for the Federal label in th
id-60s, until Mowatt's two companions left for
in 1970. Deciding to persevere with a solo career, she recorded widely in
both soul and reggae styles, under a variety of names due to contractual
ost notable of these releases was "I Shall Sing", the first of a
string of reggae chart successes.
Mowatt joined the Twelve Tribes Of Israel organization, aligning herself
with fellow Jamaican musicians such as Dennis Brown and Freddie McGregor.
She formed her own label, Ashandan, and in the early 70s joined Marcia
Griffiths on stage, alongside Rita Marley. Eventually, the trio was
cemented as the I-Threes, Bob Marley having been suitably impressed by
their performance. While working with Marley, she continued her solo
career, and also managed to find time to raise a family.
||She also had the
honour of being the first to record at Bob Marley's Tuff Gong studio in
, sessions that produced Black
Woman. It was the first
time that a female artist had produced her own album in
. Not only was it an outstanding work in its own right, but also it
offered an articulate voice for Jamaican women, who had previously been
either under- or mis-represented in the reggae idiom. Largely self-penned
(with notable contributions from Bob Marley and Freddie McGregor), it
proved a landmark work, showcasing her sweet and plaintive voice.
continued to forge a solo career and rivals her old sparring partner
Griffiths for the title of
's first woman of reggae. However, attempts to cross over have not put her
on the top of Pop charts yet but, Love
Is Overdue, which included
takes on "Try A Little-Tenderness" and UB40's "Sing Our Own
Song" have rewarded her with great personal acclaim. The album
brought her a Grammy nomination, the first occasion on which a female
reggae artist had been honored in this way.
25 October 1999
Mowatt was awarded the Order Of Distinction (Office Class) for her
contribution to Jamaican music.
On June 12,
2004, Judy accepted a new tribute as she received a Living Legend Award
from the 2004 ReggaeSoca Music Awards.
Our Own Song
is the REGGAE.com pick for our favorite Judy Mowatt album.
Click on the link to get more info and listen to samples from this
collection of great music from a true Living Legend.