Sheila Hylton returns with True Love

Observer writer

Sunday, August 20, 2017

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Sheila Hylton scored British chart hits between 1979 and 1981. After taking a hiatus from the music scene in the mid-1980s, she returned about 10 years ago with new material.

Earlier this year, she released the song True Love, a collaboration with Dennis Brown. True Love was produced by Canute Neil Ellis. It is available on iTunes, Amazon and Google Play.

“Dennis Brown wrote the song for me in the mid-1990s, so we decided to revisit it with new instrumentation by producer Canute Neil Ellis,” Hylton told the Jamaica Observer.

Brown, referred to as reggae's crown prince, died of pneumonia complications in July 1999.

Hylton was born in England and raised in Jamaica from the age of 5.

“I was sent to live with my grandparents in Kingston, so I basically grew up in Jamaica until my adult life,” said Hylton.

She made her recording debut in 1978 when she recorded the song Life in the Country for producer Harry J. The song was a cover of an original recording by American rhythm and blues group the Ebonys.

Life in the Country received substantial airplay and opened several doors for the promising singer, who had previously worked as a fashion model and a flight attendant with the then national airline, Air Jamaica.

Her follow-up single Don't Ask My Neighbour was another cover. It was originally done by the Emotions and released on the Island Records subsidiary Mango Records. It got some traction on BBC Radio.

A year later in 1979, her cover of Breakfast in Bed reached number 57 on the British pop chart. Two years later her remake of the Police's Bed's Too Big Without You rocketed up local charts and crossed over in the UK where it reached number 35.

“Under Harry J's umbrella, I called in Sly and Robbie to give their interpolation of Bed's Too Big Without You and it became an instant hit in Jamaica. Radio and club DJs played it around the clock,” Hylton recalled. “Chris Blackwell heard it being played on the radio and contacted us saying it was a sure hit for the UK, and released it on Island Records.”

To promote the record in the UK, Hylton performed on the highly rated Top of the Pops television show.

Bed's Too Big Without You was also included on the Reggae Sunsplash 81: T ribute to Bob Marley album, which earned a Grammy nominated in 1982 for Best Ethnic or Traditional Folk Recording.

But in 1984 she parted ways with producer Harry J, gave up modelling, and her singing career, and moved to the US. In 2006, she made a return to the music scene with the release of the album Steppin, produced by Irvin “Alla” Lloyd formerly of Chalice.

She currently resides in the United States.

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