JA­MAICA’S FE­MALE MU­SIC PI­O­NEERS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Song­birds: Pi­o­neer­ing Women in Jamaican Mu­sic by Heather Au­gustyn has been pub­lished by Half Pint Press and is now avail­able. The book is a com­pre­hen­sive look at Jamaican vo­cal­ists, in­stru­men­tal­ists, record pro­duc­ers, dancers, wives, moth­ers, and dee­jays who helped to shape the course of Jamaican mu­sic on the is­land and world­wide. Song­birds: Pi­o­neer­ing Women in Jamaican Mu­sic is the fourth book from Au­gustyn on Jamaican mu­sic and cul­ture.

The book fea­tures dozens of in­ter­views with women who found a way to share their tal­ent in a cul­ture and in­dus­try that was marked by brazen dis­plays of mas­culin­ity. They en­dured ha­rass­ment and re­ceived lit­tle or no pay to per­form as backup or along­side or in front of the male mu­si­cians. They sac­ri­ficed fam­ily and home for a life in the spot­light, or they brought their ba­bies with them on the road. They took over the stu­dio and made it their own, or they suf­fered unimag­in­able vi­o­lence, even mur­der. They changed the course of mu­sic all over the world. The book also fea­tures over 100 ex­clu­sive photographs and mem­o­ra­bilia that sup­ple­ment per­sonal nar­ra­tives and archival ma­te­rial.

Heather Au­gustyn spent two years re­search­ing and talk­ing to such women as Mil­lie Small of “My Boy Lol­lipop” fame who rarely grants in­ter­views, and she ob­tained photographs from her per­sonal photo al­bum. Oth­ers in­clude Enid Cum­ber­land of Keith & Enid who is now in her mid-80s; Janet En­right, the coun­try’s first fe­male gui­tarist who per­formed jazz in the 1950s; Mar­cia Grif­fiths of the I-Threes, Bob Mar­ley’s backup singers, and vo­cal­ist for the Elec­tric Slide, the sta­ple of ev­ery wed­ding re­cep­tion; mem­bers of the first all-girl ska band, the Car­na­tions, fea­tur­ing the par­ents of Tes­sanne Chin, win­ner of The Voice; Doreen Shaf­fer of the Skatal­ites; Patsy Todd of Derrick & Patsy and Stranger & Patsy; Althea & Donna, and dozens of oth­ers.

Au­gustyn is also au­thor of Don Drum­mond: The Ge­nius and Tragedy of the World’s Great­est Trom­bon­ist, McFar­land 2013; Ska: An Oral His­tory, McFar­land 2010; and Ska: The Rhythm of Lib­er­a­tion, Scare­crow Press 2013. She is a cor­re­spon­dent for The Times of North­west In­di­ana and an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at Pur­due Univer­sity’s North Calumet cam­pus. She lives with her hus­band and two boys in Ch­ester­ton, In­di­ana.

Song­birds: Pi­o­neer­ing Women in Jamaican Mu­sic is

avail­able at sk­a­book.com and ama­zon.com.

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