A solid pillar on which Jamaican music stands
Like fine wine, Marcia Linneth Griffiths does not age, she simply mellows into a rich, savoury delicacy. And so does her voice.
For more than 50 years, Griffiths has wooed, captivated and mesmerised her audience in and out of Jamaica. It was, therefore, fitting and appropriate that the distinguished beauty would stand on a ceremonial stage to soak up national accolades in 2014 – the appropriate recipient of the Jamaican Order of Distinction (Commander class).
To many of her people on the rock, the international songbird – who was born in humble settings on November 23, 1949, to emerge as the indisputable ‘Queen of Reggae’ – was a heroine.
Griffiths, regaled for her silky tone, smooth-as-mousse love songs and captivating live performances, has been rising to new heights from the day she was discovered as a resident in West Kingston.
Starting her professional career in 1964, the extraordinary singer soon crooned her way to stardom. Her superlative performance, even as a young girl, fascinated her audiences to the extent that she was offered recording contracts from more than one of the top producers of the day.
Matured and mellow over an extraordinary half a century, in January last year, Griffiths, the mother of two, announced that as part of her 50th year in the music business, she would be releasing an album of cover versions – a fittingly crowning moment in the momentous career of the queen.
For her remarkable, consistent, professional and excellent contribution to the development of Jamaican music over the years and being a solid pillar on which reggae music continues to stand internationally, The Gleaner Company is honoured to present Marcia Linneth Griffiths, CD, with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Entertainment.
Singing Marcia’s Praises
FREDDIE McGREGOR – veteran singer/chief executive officer, Big Ship Records
Having collaborated on songs like Give Me Your Heart and United We Stand, Freddie McGregor says the only word to describe Marcia Griffiths is ‘excellent’.
“Me and Sister Marcia work a lot. She is the finest female left in our music industry. We are very protective of her and we always try to look out for her,” said the veteran singer and producer.
“When we look back at the work of Marcia, we can’t say anything but excellent. We applaud Sister Marcia in every way.”
McGregor said he has toured with Griffiths extensively and truly admires her as a musician for her ability to remain consistent for decades.
“She has made one of the greatest marks as a female. She remains steadfast with us and, when it comes to longevity, she stands the test of time. She is consistently working and touring, and that is a rare feat for an artiste of her calibre and age group,” he said.
And like most of her colleagues, McGregor believes she deserves all the recognition she has received.
CHARLES CAMPBELL – executive director, Jamaica Reggae Industry Association
With Marcia Griffiths’ career spanning more than 50 years, Charles Campbell, executive director of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), believes she has made a huge mark internationally.
“I think her mark is even broader than the reggae industry. Female artistes all over the world look up to Marcia as a standard to work towards in terms of stage craft, her immaculate appearance and her professionalism,” said Campbell, who has worked with Griffiths for numerous events.
“She is one of those pillars on which reggae went international. I can’t think of any other act – male or female – which has done duets with every succeeding generation of artistes. What is unique about Marcia is that she has always kept herself current.”
He added: “Marcia is richly deserving of all the awards and honours she has received over the years. I am very proud of her. She has been a goodwill ambassador for Jamaica for the past five decades and JaRIA is proud to have her as a lifelong member.”
DONOVAN GERMAIN – chief executive officer, Penthouse Records
When Marcia Griffiths walked into his recording studio 28 years ago, Penthouse Records chief executive officer Donovan Germain had no idea that he would still be working with her today or that they would become such close friends.
In 1986, Germain recorded Everywhere with Griffiths. By this time, she had already had much success as a solo act and had been a member of the I-Three, backing singers for Bob Marley and the Wailers.
“It was the first time we did a song together. It was a dream working with an icon like that. As a producer, you saw that you were lucky to work with Marcia. I cherish the relationship we have together. She brought a lot of attention and credibility to Penthouse,” he said, adding that she has made an immeasurable and indelible mark on the music industry.
Since that first encounter, they recorded numerous songs, including Fire Burning, I Shall Sing and Land of Love. He has also produced five albums for her and is currently working on a new one.
Having worked together for decades, Germain said it was a joy producing her songs because she is a beautiful singer and they share common beliefs.
“She believes in the things that I bring to the table. In music, once there is a certain chemistry, you stay with it,” he said.
Between 1974 and 1981, Marcia Griffiths was a member of the I-Three – a trio of backing singers which supported the formidable Jamaican group – Bob Marley and The Wailers.
So revered is Griffiths internationally that a Brazilian documentary film about Griffiths, ‘Reggae Meets Samba’, started production in December 2013.
In 1968, Marcia Griffiths recorded her first success as a solo artiste, ‘Feel Like Jumping’, that, like many of her other early Studio One solo hits, including ‘Truly’ and ‘Melody Life’, was written by Bob Andy.