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Griffiths makes us boogie

Marcia Griffiths is probably best known as one of Bob Marley’s backing singers The I Threes, yet she is an accomplished performer in her own right and since his passing in 1981 she has been touring the world to appreciative packed houses. Anyone who has partied to the hit ‘Electric Boogie’ has danced to a Griffiths classic, a biggest single in a long, distinguished career that started in her teens.

Marcia Llyneth Griffiths was born on Nov. 23, 1949 in West Kingston, Jamaica. She started her career in 1964, performing on stage with Byron Lee and the Dragonaires at the behest of Phillip James of The Blues Busters, who had heard her singing in her home neighbourhood. Her performance was sufficiently impressive that the following day Ronnie Nasralla and Clement Dodd both offered her recording contracts. She chose Dodd's Studio One label, where she recorded a series of duets with male singers including Bob Marley (‘Oh My Darling’) and Bob Andy (‘Always Together’), with whom she would have a relationship lasting several years. In 1968 she had her first success as a solo artist, with ‘Feel Like Jumping’, which like her other early Studio One solo hits including ‘Truly’ and ‘Melody Life’, were written by Andy.

From 1970 to 1974 she worked together with Bob Andy as a duo Bob and Marcia, on the Harry J label. She also recorded for Lloyd Charmers.

Between 1974 and 1981 she was a member of the I Threes supporting Bob Marley & the Wailers. She continued to record as a solo artist throughout the 1970s, working with producers such as Sonia Pottinger, and Joseph Hoo Kim.

In 1983, she released her re-recording of the Bunny Wailer song ‘Electric Boogie’, originally recorded and released by Wailer in 1976. Although the 1983 version became a minor hit for Griffiths, the song was remixed in 1989, and it was this version that made the Electric Slide line dance an international dance craze. It reached number 51 on the US Billboard Hot 100, making it her most successful single. It is currently the highest-selling single by a female reggae singer of all time. She has more recently had further hits with producer Donovan Germain.

She had two children with JBC disc jockey Errol Thompson, and raised them alone after his death in 1983.

Griffiths was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award in 2004 for Best Reggae Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Gwen Stefani/No Doubt, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites.

In January 2014 she announced that as part of her fiftieth year in the music business she would be releasing an album of her favourite songs by other artists, Songs That Inspire Me, Songs I Love to Sing, recorded with Germain.

Such is the respect Griffiths holds in Jamaica, in 2014 she received the Jamaican Order of Distinction (Commander class). At 68 she shows no signs of slowing down and continues to thrill rapturous fans worldwide.

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