Black Woman Judy Mowatt

Black Woman Judy Mowatt

Howard Campbell

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

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February is Reggae Month and the Jamaica Observer continues its coverage with related stories.

ALBUMS by female reggae acts were a rarity during the 1970s. As the decade closed, Judy Mowatt broke that drought with the remarkable Black Woman.

Black Woman was recorded while Mowatt was a member of the I Three, Bob Marley's harmony group.

Released in 1980, it is regarded as one of the great reggae albums.

In a 1995 interview with Reggae Report magazine, Mowatt says she was inspired to record the album after viewing an exhibition on slavery in the southern United States.

Some of the pieces were so graphic, Mowatt recalled being overwhelmed.

"I got nauseous," she said.

The sessions for Black Woman started in 1979 and featured noted musicians such as drummers Leroy 'Horsemouth' Wallace and Freddie McGregor; bassist Howard Bedassie, keyboardist Tyrone Downie, saxophonist Headley Bennett and guitarists Stephen 'Cat' Coore, Earl 'Chinna' Smith and Dalton Browne.

Their playing complemented Mowatt's emotive vocals on songs like the title track, Slave Queen, Many are Called and Zion Chant. She covered Marley's Concrete Jungle and saluted the reggae star on Joseph.

Now a committed Christian, Mowatt was honoured by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association in 2011 for her contribution to the country's music industry.

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