Dancing to daddy's beat

Observer senior reporter

Thursday, October 03, 2019

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William “Bunny Rugs” Clark had one of the most distinctive voices in reggae. As lead singer of Third World, that sound helped to create many anthems for that band.

His passing in 2014 left a void in terms of reggae vocalists, but also birthed a confidence in his daughter Adriana, who recently reimagined one of his songs, Dancing on The Floor, and released it as her début single.

The Jamaica Observer caught up with her at home in Kissimmee, Florida, where she shared the journey from reluctant singer to releasing the track.

“If I'm to be honest, deep, deep, deep down, I always wanted to do music, but I simply never had the confidence,” she explained. “It is something I have always been doing on a certain scale. I have always been in choirs. I went to a performing arts high school and studied vocal music and even in college I sang in the choir but it was never something more than singing in the choir.”

But something changed when her father died from cancer.

“It was not until he passed and I sang at both his services in in Orlando, Florida and in Kingston...from then on I noticed a shift in my voice. A confidence came that I never had before. That was when I decided that this is what I really wanted to do,” Clarke recalled. “I also started singing as part of the praise and worship team at my church and then I said, 'Lord, I give you my voice, use it in the ways you want it to be used'. I tell you, my voice went from zero to 100 really quickly, it's actually amazing to think about it.”

At the Kingston funeral service, which was held at Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Clark met bass player Taddy P, who turned out to pay respect to Rugs. In a brief conversation he asked her if she was interested in music to which she gave a sharp “no”. He offered his services if she changed her mind.

A year ago, Clark decided she would rework one of her father's songs; her version of Dancing on The Floor was born and she remembered Taddy P's offer.

“It's a Third World song that daddy actually wrote in 1981. Years ago, I had played it for a schoolmate of mine and she really loved it. So, last year when I decided I wanted to really do music I thought about what I'd do and it came to me that my friend it is a young girl, and if she can love this song and connect to this song then there must be something in this song,” she said.

Clark called Taddy P, who enhanced the original sound “with EDM, some dubstep, dancehall and a little pop”. She added that, “When he sent me the version, which is now the official track, I instantly fell in love with it. I love that he put a new twist on it because it gave it new life.”

Clark said there are thoughts of her doing an extended play (EP) or album with some Third World or Bunny Rugs tracks.

Does she have a favourite Third World track with her father on lead vocals?

“By default, Now That We Found Love is one of my favourites. I remember asking him about a year before he passed away what was his favourite song that he sang with Third World and he chose that, so I got that tattooed on my back,” she said. “But one that I really love his vocals on is Love Will Always Be There. I love it because at the beginning of the track you hear him walk in and you hear him cough, you hear his voice and he speaks.”

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