Jamaica is having a pretty good year. The island nation inaugurated Portia Simpson-Miller, its first female Prime Minister (again), celebrated its 50th year of independence, and once again dominated the premier track and field events at the Olympic games.
While the entire world seemed to celebrate Jamaica’s sporting accomplishments, the renewed spotlight on the island made me think of some of my favorite musicians. Everyone in the world knows Bob Marley, but there’s more to Jamrock than just his music.
Artists like Freddy McGreggor, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Gregory Isaacs, Beres Hammond, Buju Banton, Sizzla, Jah Cure, and so many others have made Jamaica ground zero for iconic music, but what about the ladies?
As I scrolled through my mental playlist of female reggae artists I love, three stood out above the rest.
Even dancehall and reggae novices know Sister Nancy’s signature tracks. Her iconic “Bam Bam” has been burning up dance floors for decades, and have even found a home in hip-hop. Lauryn Hill sampled “Bam Bam” for her break-away anthem, “Lost Ones,” and Alicia Keys borrowed the signature track for the “No One” remix. Sister Nancy is known as the first female dancehall DJ and its most important female voice for over two decades, and her music continues to inspire others to move.