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Claudelle Clarke: Queen of reggae gospel


Cecelia Campbell-Livingston

Friday, May 25, 2012

In commemoration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain, the Jamaica Observer's Entertainment section recognises 50 persons who made significant, yet unheralded, contributions to the country's culture. This week we feature Claudelle Clarke.

THE year was 2005. The event was 'It Soon Be Done' at Cinema II in New Kingston, where veteran gospel singer Claudelle Clarke gave a captivating performance.

She brought the house down with standards like That's Enough, I Saw The Light, and He Touched Me.

It was a royal performance by someone who has been dubbed the queen of reggae gospel. That is quite a lofty title considering she was once admonished by a pastor for wearing an Afro in church!

Clarke's first public performance came at age six when she was a member of the New Testament Church of God Choir in Yallahs, St Thomas along with her sisters Millicent and Carol.

Eight years later, Clarke made her recording debut, a ska duet with singer Stranger Cole titled Seven Days Make One Week for producer Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label.

Several other ska songs followed before she returned to her Christian roots in 1968.

Over the years Clarke has recorded gospel gems such as Lonely Pilgrim, Something Deep Inside Of Me and the riveting Turn Your Radio On.

In 1983, Clarke migrated to Canada where she lived for 10 years performing across Canada, before moving to Florida where she lives today.

Along with Adina Edwards and the Grace Thrillers, Claudelle Clarke made ripples in the mainstream long before it became fashionable in the 1990s.

For that, this gospel queen is a trailblazer.




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