NORMA DODD WAS a pillar of strength to Studio One

Sunday, September 05, 2010

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IF there is anyone who epitomises the popular expression that beside every great man there is an equally great woman, then Norma Dodd, widow of the legendary record producer, studio/sound system owner, the late Clement Seymour Dodd, was a perfect example of that saying.


For if her husband, better known as Sir Coxsone, arguably the founding father of popular Jamaican music, was a tower of strength, then she was a supporting pillar. Certainly, she was one of two founding matriarchs of the Studio One dynasty. The other was Coxsone’s mother, the late Doris Darlington who inspired and guided him into a life of music.



The tributes that have been pouring in since she took her final breath on Tuesday at the University Hospital of the west indies, are in affirmation of the role she played alongside her husband in the establishment of Jamaica’s most renowned recording company.



In a male dominated industry, the women in Jamaican music don’t often get the props they deserve. But in the case of Mrs Dodd, this is not due to any gender bias. As a person, she was not one for the limelight, she often shied away from the media as she prefered to do her thing quietly away from the public glare.


However, when the history of her contribution to her husband’s achievement to Jamaican music shall have been fully documented, the records will show that Norma Dodd, was among the leading contributors. Even after Coxsone’s passing seven years ago, she worked vigorously to keep his rich musical legacy alive.


In expressing her condolences, culture minister Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange stated: “Norma Dodd was a partner in the administration of the recording company, Studio One, operated by her famous husband, Clement 'Coxone' Dodd but no one would ever know of her major role because she never flaunted it.”



Minister Grange was not the only one to echo this view. Musicologist, broadcaster and longtime associate Bunny Goodison noted. “I found her a very humble person despite being the wife of, obviously the founding father of Jamaican music. You never heard her hyping it up and say who I am. But above all, I like her quiet demeanour and she has a good sense of who she was and she afford Mr Dodd the kind of emotional support which must have been essential for him to achieve the things he did because they worked together for decades.”


Added he: “As a person I have nothing but good to say of her... As has been said long ago, Studio One is the Berry Gordy/Motown of Jamaica. Same humble beginning from the ground it came. I don’t thing Berry went through what Dodd went through either. Because to deal with Jamaican people is not easy. I have a profound regards for what Studio One has created and I know of a fact, based on my upbringing with nuf a dem artistes, were it not for him (Coxsone), many would be pick-pockets, and thieves and gunman and all kind a sup’em because he rescued a lot of them off the streets with the opportunity he gave them.


“These are things I hold dear to my heart. The mere fact that Mrs Dodd was his wife, she must at least indirectly contributed by virtue of she making his life a little more able to deal with all them problems... The emotional support that she afford him, made him achieved more. That is something that we can’t ignore.”


King Stitt, the deejay/selector whose toasting back in days when radio paid scant regard to Jamaican music, was the driving force behind Coxsone’s Downbeat, also gave his account of Mrs Dodd’s contribution to the music.


“She was also an accountant and she used to keep his (Coxsone’s) accounts from they were at Love Lane and Beeston Street until they both opened Jamaica Recording Publishing Studio at 13 Brentford Road renamed Studio One Boulevard in honour of Clement Dodd’s contribution to the music industry,” King Stitt said about Mrs Dodd whose dedication to husband’s dream helped in his discovery as well as that of numerous other artistes.

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