Sat | Oct 31, 2020

Nobody is perfect – Shuga - Reggae singer uses past to create future

Published:Sunday | February 23, 2020 | 12:16 AM

“Black woman, ooh, black woman, like me you struggled long, your trod of life’s roughest road, you bear the heaviest load”, is the evocative chorus of Black Woman by Judy Mowatt, the song that opens the tribute medley to the I-Three women conceived by reggae singer Shuga. It also features the sounds of Tribulation by Marcia Griffiths and A Jah Jah by Rita Marley.

The tribute track was originally released on October 2, 2019, but with the current Reggae Month celebrations, Shuga said she felt the need to highlight iconic females who she strives to be like.

“Nobody nuh perfect. I can tell you that I have a past. I wasn’t always this Shuga, but I am growing to understand the positive way is the best way because it makes me feel better about myself, and I want to be a role model,” Shuga told The Sunday Gleaner.

“Dem (I-Three) play some serious roles in the music industry and reggae music as background singers for Bob Marley and with their own music. There is so much knowledge and history, so much to learn, and I emulate these women because of their positive energy and music.”

The industry, and the music, has the power to mislead people, she said, but there is always a pathway in the right direction. For her, it has been learning and listening to the stories of the women from the I-Three and their journey.

“These icons are like my library, and they are the true reflection why positive is greater than negative. It lasts. Sister Marcia at her age don’t have to try to compete, to come a skin out and worry if her music works or not because she start good from morning, likewise Judy Mowatt,” she said.

“Through their collaboration and support of the track produced by Donovan Germain, they have handed me a baton and I am here with the baton hoping I am worthy to hold it and pass it down to those after me.”

One of the I-Three singers, Mowatt, said: “I am happy to know the work was able to inspire a young lady who when I look at her life, it resembles mine. Shuga is an excellent writer and her thoughts are clear, so when people listen to the rest of her catalogue, her ups and downs will be visible and relatable.”

Mowatt explained that a lot of her music, and the I-Three catalogue, was built off surroundings, “living conditions to the way women were treated in the rocksteady era – a time when music recorded by females was not readily played” and it was always up to the females, and reggae artistes in general, to create the path for themselves.

“It was regular to ask why we were not hearing reggae on the radio. Then we jumped that hurdle, and it was the female singers not on the rotation, so we had our struggles. I created the path I wanted to be on, and I wanted the songs I wrote to uplift my sisters and take their minds off the struggles they experienced. Shuga can use the past experiences of her own and others to create a future,” the female icon urged her newly adopted protége.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com