Beyond Bob Marley and Ziggy Marley: Jamaican Musicians You Should Know
When you think of music coming out of Jamaica, you may think of reggae music. And if you think of reggae music, chances are, you think of Bob Marley and his son’s band Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers. While Bob and Ziggy Marley are incredibly talented musicians, there are many more Jamaican musicians to get to know to round out your experience of the music.
Bunny Wailer – Bunny Wailer was an original member of The Wailers along with Bob Marley and artist Peter Tosh. His first solo album, Blackheart Man is arguably one of his most influential.
Peter Tosh – Another of the core members of The Wailers, Tosh’s solo career took on a more political tone. Some of his most well-known songs are “Johnny Be Good,” “Legalize It,” and “Get Up, Stand Up.” The latter being a song he co-wrote with Bob Marley.
Burning Spear – Burning Spear is the stage name of Winston Rodney. Bob Marley encouraged him to pursue a recording contract, and he did just that. He earned two Grammy Awards for Best Reggae album. “Marcus Garvey,” “Slavery Days,” and “Woman I Love You” are some of his most popular songs.
Anton Ellis – Anton Ellis is known for the rocksteady movement. He began making music in the R&B style, and his music evolved. Perhaps you’ve heard “Rock Steady” or “You Made Me So Very Happy.”
Dennis Brown – Dennis Brown was nicknamed “The Crown Prince of Reggae.” He was extremely prolific and was included in NPR’s Morning Edition program as one of the “50 Great Voices.” “Money In My Pocket,” “Lips Of Wine,” and “Promised Land” are just a few of his hits.
Marcia Griffiths – Marcia Griffiths spent fifty years creating amazing Jamaican music. In 1989, her re-recording of Bunny Wailer’s “Electric Boogie” inspired the creation of the Electric Slide. “When Will I See You Again,” “Young Gifted and Black,” and “Closer” are a few of her other hits.
Millie Small – Millie Small was also a groundbreaker. This phenomenal musician was the first international recording star from the Caribbean. She was also one of the most successful female producer. “My Boy Lollipop” and “I Love the Way You Love” are two of her most famous songs.
Phyllis Dillon – Phyllis Dillon was also rocksteady movement pioneer. Her recording career was rather short compared to her contemporaries – she only made records from 1967-1971. Her songs like “Win or Lose,” “Make Me Yours,” and “Why Did You Leave Me to Cry” (with Anton Ellis) take R&B and mix it with reggae for a unique and danceable sound.
Grace Jones – Grace Jones is quite iconic for many reasons. Not only is she a musician, but she is also a model, songwriter, record producer, and actress. She has had great influence on the music and music fashion scene – and influenced many other women to wear men’s sportswear. Her music is more New Wave than Reggae, but it certainly has many reggae influences interwoven. “I Need A Man,” “La Vie en Rose,” and “Slave to the Rhythm” are some of her greatest hits.
Diana King – You’ve probably heard Diana King’s “Shy Guy,” but you may not have realized you were listening to a Jamaican artist. She has ties to the hip hop community by way of The Notorious B.I.G. After recording a song with him, she went on to record her take on Bob Marley’s “Stir It Up” and then her hit “Shy Guy.” “Piece of my Heart” is another of her hits as is “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me.”
While this isn’t an extensive list of Jamaican musicians, it is a list of ten singers who have had a lot of influence on the music scene.