Nora Dean dead at 72
Singer Nora Dean, best known for the 1969 hit song Barbwire (Oh Mama), has died.
She passed away on Thursday in Connecticut at age 72, her niece Caroline Jones told the Sunday Observer.
“She had been living in Connecticut since moving here from New York in 2010. My aunt lived in New York after she moved from Jamaica in the late 1970s,” Jones said.
Born in Spanish Town, Dean was a member of two groups: The Soulettes (with Rita Marley and Cecile Campbell) and the Ebony Sisters. She sang lead on The Soulettes’ hit, Let It Be and the Ebony Sisters’ Let Me Tell You Boy.
Dean recorded for several producers including Duke Reid, Bunny Lee, Sonia Pottinger, Lee Perry and Harry Mudie. Her biggest hit was the risqué Barbwire, produced by Byron Smith.
She had chart success in the 1970s with Scorpion In His Pants, Night Food Reggae, Greedy Boy and The Same Thing You Gave To Daddy. Dean also contributed backing vocals to Jimmy Cliff’s 1973 album Unlimited.
After several years away from music, she returned in the 1980s. In the 1990s, she recorded a number of gospel albums including My Soul Loves Jesus, Melody of Praise, Down On My Knees, The Love of God and Breakthrough.
Her most recent album was 2006’s At Calgary. She won a new generation of fans in 2003, when her vocals were heard in a British television commercial for Vaseline.
The song, Listen to Mama by Walkerman, sampled Barbwire. Married twice, she had no children. Funeral arrangements for Nora Dean are being finalised.
— Kevin Jackson