Carla Williams gives high ratings to Jamaican female actsFriday, September 24, 2021
BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
AN unabashed “child of the 90s”, Carla Marie Williams thrives on trends from that decade. It's the period's music, however, that gets her blood pumping the most.
The British singer/songwriter has spent a lot of time in Jamaica during the past year. She is excited about the country's music scene, especially female acts, some of whom are on the radar of her Girls I Rate production company.
Williams — who recently did a remix of her song Hope with Beenie Man — has made her name writing hit songs for big names like Beyoncé ( Freedom), Britney Spears ( Glory), and The Saturdays ( Not Giving Up). With the right guidance, she believes Jamaican female artistes can make it internationally.
“I'm listening to the female artistes in Jamaica just because I want them to make them global artistes in the way Spice has just done in America. I love Shenseea, I love Jada Kingdom, I love Denyque, I love Lila (Iké), I love Koffee, mi love Savannah,” she said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer's Splash. “I love so many of them for different reasons, but I feel we have to get back to the 90s when reggae and dancehall was travelling. I think we need to get back to that place where the music is resonating all across the world.”
From the list of acts Williams admires, only Koffee has made an international impact. Her songs, like Toast, caught on globally and helped make her the first woman to win the Grammy Award (with Rapture) for Best Reggae Album in 2020.
In the 1990s, Jamaican female acts thrived. Diana King, Patra, Dawn Penn and Nadine Sutherland all had songs that entered charts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Japan.
Williams did not disclose the extent of her working relationship with the aforementioned acts, but said she spent considerable time with music industry players while in Jamaica, and even did some recording sessions.
Reaching out to Jamaica seems natural for Williams who was born in London to Jamaican parents from Manchester and Trelawny. She grew up in Harlesden, a borough in north-west London with a large Jamaican community.
She recalls being raised in a home where her mother played everything from revival music to Dennis Brown, Frankie Paul, and Tenor Saw.
Williams has been coming to Jamaica regularly for the past 15 years, building bonds with family and artistes/producers. The last five years has seen her career soar, especially as a songwriter for British acts like Girls Aloud and The Saturdays.
She considers her breakthrough song to be Freedom which was co-written with Beyonce and rapper Kendrick Lamar who is featured on the inspirational track. It was used in Hilary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and in Black Lives Matter protests.
“It's a revolutionary song for black people wanting to feel free, it's a woman's anthem. For her [Beyoncé] to bring it to the masses and say that message really resonated with me and made me feel proud,” said Williams.