Had a conversation with my mother one day and she was explaining to me how cultural important Marcia Griffiths is to the Jamaican music scene and in extension to Jamaican women. She, after being a part of very important duo with the great Bob Andy, went on to be a part of the new formed I threes with Rita Marley and Judy Mowatt specifically created to tour with Bob Marley band and the Wailers. After his death she relaunched a very impressive solo career which saw her continue to release hits which have charted worldwide. However, Marcia’s impact cannot be quantified merely in charts success. It is her ability to continue to record and most importantly remain relevant after more than 40 years in an industry which is notably male dominated that is the true triumph. A global inspiration and Jamaican icon what follows is a list of Marcia’s songs selected for their cultural effect both on the island and further afield, a tribute to the career of one Marcia Llyneth Giffiths O.D.
Marcia Griffiths- Feel Like Jumping (Coxosone Records)-1968
This song was one of Marcia’s first recordings with Clement `Sir Coxsone` Dodd and with ‘Truly’ was one of her earliest hits for the Studio One label. ‘Feel Like Jumping’ certainly encapsulates the feeling of post-independence Jamaica. Set to the quintessential rocksteady beat, a youthful Marcia glides over the record at times mimicking an adolescent schoolgirl (Which she wasn’t too far off being at the time), to deliver the simple happy go-lucky lyrics. This former chart topper has had some staying power with many cover attempts, the most popular of which by English ska band Bad Manners in the mid 90s. ‘Feel Like Jumping’ is also acknowledged, by Marcia herself no less, as the song that initially launched her career, in addition to headlining her live performances ‘Feel Like Jumping’ also was rereleased as a part of her double disc 2007 Melody Life album.
Bob and Marcia – Young Gifted & Black (Harry J/Trojan Recordings) -1970
Marcia, now as a member of one of Jamaica’s most recognizable duo Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths (officially Bob and Marcia), released this powerhouse at the height of the Black Power Movement. No where felt the power of this version of the Nina Simone classic than the United Kingdom. Rising to the number 5 spot on the UK’s singles chart released on the 4th of April 1970, Bob and Marcia were only bested at the time by the likes of: Mary Hopkin, Simon & Garfunkel, Lee Marvin and Andy Williams, a phenomenal achievement for a song originally recorded in small studio by a then relatively unknown
Marcia Griffiths – I Shall Sing (Penthouse Records) – 1993
Another solid record produced and distributed under the Penthouse imprint, ‘I Shall Sing’ lyrics read like a statement of intent. Little snippets like “Old enough to know what’s right…. young enough to dance all night” and “I shall sing as long as I live…. and as long as I live, I shall sing” highlights the veteran songbird’s determination to stand the test of time much like many of her songs. After first being released as a single in 1993, ‘I Shall Sing’ has subsequently been released two more times on the albums “Truly” 1998 and “Melody Life” 2007. It is evident from the number of releases that both Marcia and her fans hold ‘I Shall Sing’ close to their collective heart which is fine because we can only hope things play out as the song prophesies.
Harry J on the island of Jamaica. ‘Young Gifted & Black’ helped Marcia to consolidate her presence in the business and helped to introduce her music to the British, and by extension European, public. A fan base that has remained faithful to this day and still steadily requests to see her every few months.
Marcia Griffiths – Electric Boogie (Island Records) – 1989
Ever the trail blazer, Marcia captured the imaginations of wedding planners and DJs worldwide with this track. Originally written and performed by Bunny Wailer, to moderate success, in the early 80’s, ‘Electric Boogie’ truly only connected with overseas audiences, especially the American ones, after it was rerecorded by Marcia and released in 1989. Although it charted as high as 51 on the US Billboard Hot 100, thus making it the highest selling single by a female reggae singer of all time, this is not the reason why ‘Electric Boogie’ was the main dance craze in the clubs and at any family function you could possibly think of for a solid decade. It was the accompanying dance step the ‘Electric Slide’ that did the trick. This infectious line dance, also just called ‘The Electric’, was originally choreographed by Ric Silver and became the official dance of the song long before it was immortalized by the song’s music video. ‘Electric Boogie’ and the ‘Electric Slide’ dance has made several appearances in feature Hollywood films the most popular being 1999 film ‘The Best Man’, introducing the track and the artiste who sung it to a new generation of fans to enjoy and ‘slide’ up and down the dance floor.
Beres Hammond & Marcia Griffiths – Live On (Penthouse Vintage) – 1992
After a bit of time out of the spotlight, Marcia shot back into the media’s eye when she begun to work with Penthouse Records and the label’s head honcho Donavan Germaine. ‘Live On’ recorded on the ‘College Rock’ riddim, which was an updated take on the Studio One release ‘Freak Out’ by Jackie Mittoo, had two legendary Jamaican crooners aligned seamlessly on this very soulful track. This song reintroduced Marcia to the contemporary Jamaican audience who at the time were more concerned with dancehall than they were with ‘lovers rock’. However with ‘Live On’ being a part of juggling that included the likes of Sanchez ‘One in a Million’, Shabba Ranks ‘Will Power’, Buju Banton ‘Buju Moving’ and Garnett Silk’s ‘Commitment’, more and more fans of Marcia were being created every time ‘College Rock’ is played. ‘Live On’ also happens to be the most popular collaboration she has with the iconic Beres Hammond the basis of which has seen the pair headline many international tours together.