If Bob Marley is the king of reggae, then Marcia Griffiths is the undisputed queen. She may have had one of her biggest gigs as a member of Marley’s backup trio the I-Three, but she has proven her mettle over the course of a stunning 50-year career in an industry famous for its exclusion of women. Griffiths’ career has gone through several iterations, from calypso vocalist to Bob Andy duet partner to I-Three member and finally, deservedly, solo stardom.
Today, we hail the reigning queen of reggae.
- Griffiths was discovered by Phillip ‘Basy’ James of Blues Busters, who heard the 13 year old harmonising with her guitar-playing neighbour and insisted that she should try out for the Easter Monday show with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires. She sang Carla Thompson’s No Time to Lose.
- Her first recording was the party-starter Feel Like Jumping, done at Sir Coxsone Dodd’s Studio One. She was 14 years old at the time.
- She grew up in a religious home, singing with her sisters and brothers. Her father, who was also a very good singer, was not keen on her chosen career, but he eventually became her manager and companion on the road.
- In 1982, Griffiths gained solo recognition with the release of her hit song, Electric Boogie, which topped the Jamaican charts. Seven years later, it exploded on the international scene when it created the electric slide, which is still an international dance craze. Electric Boogie made the Billboard pop charts and singles chart and remains the highest-selling single by a female reggae singer.
- She loves the piano/keyboard and has developed the special gift for playing the piano by ear.
- She has admitted that she had no formal training as a singer.
- Griffiths has received a number of awards in acknowledgement of her outstanding career, including the Prime Minister’s Award of Excellence in 2002; the United Nations “Woman of Esteem Award” in 2004; the Order of Distinction, Commander Class in 2014 and, most recently, the Gleaner Company’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Entertainment.
- She loves to cook, especially natural and organic foods.
- Griffiths has three sons, Errol Thompson Jr, Johannes and Marcus, and is also step-mother to Matthew Thompson, more popularly known as artiste and producer Esco.
Check out our Marcia Griffiths playlist here.