New book focuses on women in reggae

small coverThere are hundreds of books written about Bob Marley, reggae and dancehall, but none have been all about the women. Now all that has changed thanks to Heather Augustyn, a correspondent for The Times of Northwest Indiana, U.S., and an adjunct professor at Purdue University’s North Central campus as well as the author of Don Drummond: The Genius and Tragedy of the World’s Greatest Trombonist, Ska: An Oral History and Ska: The Rhythm of Liberation.

Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music is the first the first book about women ni reggae, many of whom are critical to the ska explosion in the 60s or the global rise of roots reggae in the 70s.

The book is a detailed look at the daughters, wives and mothers in reggae; the vocalists, instrumentalists, producers, dancers and deejays who helped to shape the course of Jamaican music on the island and worldwide.

This is Heather Augustyn’s fourth book and she spent two years researching it. It features dozens of interviews with a number of key individuals, including Millie Small, Enid Cumberland of Keith & Enid, Janet Enright, Jamaica’s first female guitarist who performed jazz in the 1950s, Marcia Griffiths and members of the first all-girl ska band, the Carnations.

Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music is the story about women in reggae, women that has often been harassed and received little or no pay to perform as backup singers or alongside or in front of the male musicians. It’s also the story about women who found a way to share their talent in a culture and industry that is often marked by masculinity and along the way they changed the course of music all over the world.

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