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A Love That Lasts

By Kevin Jackson
Observer writer

Friday, February 14, 2020

NEARLY 30 years after it became a hit, My First Real Love remains a favourite with Jamaicans and Dorrett Wisdom is still in awe.

My First Real Love was released in 1991 and it went to number one on the RJR Top 40 chart. It was produced by Willie Stewart and released on the Peak label.

In an interview with the Jamaica Observer's Splash yesterday, Wisdom explained how the song came about.

“The song told it all. It was about a relationship that I was in at the time, and I was getting all this advice from everybody. The relationship wasn't abusive at all. But you know when you're young and in love. But things were just not going the way you wanted,” said Wisdom.

She continued, “To this day people still sing the song when it is played at retro parties. I even performed it at a few weddings in recent years. It brings tears to my eyes to see that people love that song.”

She explained the process of writing and recording the song.

“I wrote the chorus first and then a month after I wrote the verse around it. The song was really about having a conversation with myself. Pablo Stewart, who was the brother of Willie Stewart, was my manager at the time and we were going to the studio to record another song and he asked me: 'What happen to the other song that you were humming the other day? So I sang it in the car and he said, 'That's the song we're going to record”.

Wisdom continued, “During the recording session I was very shy, but still, once I am around the mic, is a different Dorrett. The song meant so much to me and it was fun. Everyone was excited about it and we did it in one take.”

The musicians who worked on the song were Ian Hird (saxaphone), Willie Stewart (drum track), and Neville Hinds (keyboard).

When the song became a hit on the airwaves persons thought that it was recorded by an overseas rhythm and blues singer.

Said Wisdom, “There wasn't a video for the song, so many people didn't know I was the singer of the song. It was playing on the radio every single day and it got so popular. There was an article that came out on me in the newspaper at the time, and they stated where I worked and people came to the store the day after to see who I was. It was a really interesting time.”

At the time, Wisdom was employed as a sales clerk at Lord & Lady in Manor Park and resided in Portmore. She said the song's success did not really open many doors for her.

“I did a show that Richie B had at Coney Park and Shabba Ranks and many other artistes were on it. I also did a show that Olivia Grange had at the Epiphany nightclub called '4 the Hard Way (Live and Direct)' with me, Cindy Breakspeare, Susan Couch, and Heather Grant. I also did an album that was produced by Willie Stewart, but it wasn't released,” she recalled.

Following the song's success, Wisdom won the Best New Artiste Award in the JAMI Awards. Her video for her follow-up single Now That I Know was nominated for Best Music Video.

Prior to venturing into music, Wisdom studied fashion designing at the Fashion Academy. She later performed cabaret on the north coast before she recorded My First Real Love. She later did background work on songs for artistes including Luciano and Dennis Brown. She also toured with Buju Banton as one of his background singers.

In 2014, American rhythm and blues singer Ashanti sampled My First Real Love on her song First Real Love which was featured on the album Braveheart. The song was a collaboration with Beenie Man.

For the past 19 years, Wisdom has been a member of singer Beres Hammond's Harmony House Singers. In January, she released her first single in many years, titled Lonely. It is produced by Triple Ess Music.