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Story of the Song | Marcus Garvey among 'Virtuous Woman' influences

Published:Thursday | March 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Warrior King
Marcus Garvey

'No real man can live without a woman

Like night to day is a woman to her man

She's essential to his purpose and his mission

A good woman is a glory to her man

She'll never take the power, she'll make him a better man

Every great man has a virtuous woman.'

(Warrior King, Virtuous Woman)

Last month, speaking during the Grounation series held at the Institute of Jamaica, the Universal Negro Improvement Association's Mark Golding included Warrior King's Virtuous Woman among the songs which have been influenced by the writing of the Rt Excellent Marcus Garvey. It is a connection Warrior King had spoken about with The Sunday Gleaner, the deejay also noting a number of other influences on the song's lyrics.

Warrior King's 2001 Virtuous Woman is a guaranteed dance and singalong from his first "shooba shooba" pops up on the remake of the rhythm to Culture's Zion Gate. It was produced by Michael 'Mikey Chang' Johnson on the Lion Paw label. However, Warrior King tells The Sunday Gleaner that his breakout song and debut album's title track was unaccustomed territory for an artiste who started out as a hardcore deejay. "The rhythm never appeal to me," Warrior King said - not least of all because of the change in it that he did not know was called the bridge. However, he said, "Me jus' hear the music go up and me go up with it".

Before he followed the natural progression of the music, though, Warrior King had to write Virtuous Woman. He was given a copy of the rhythm by his then manager Garfield 'Fresh Foot' Watson one morning after exercising at the Caymanas Park. "Him say 'go listen the riddim.' Him play it on him little component set. Me say 'rahtid, how me a go make a song with all the changes.'"

Warrior King says that before he writes a lyric he prays "let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight ..."

However, his reading gave the meditation direction. At the time Warrior King was reading The Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey and he says: "I was not thinking of it directly but when I read, it come up in my subconsciousness". So he realises that the opening verse, which starts "no real man can live without a woman" was related to Garvey's writing, the Universal Negro Improvement Association founder stating about women "no real man can live without her".




Around the same time, Warrior King said, The Gleaner had published an article in which poet Mutabaruka argued against the definition of a virtuous woman as simply one who has never had sex. Warrior King points out that His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie's wife, Empress Menen, had previous marriages and borne children before the royal union. And Warrior King recalled Proverbs 31 which, from verse 10 onwards, speaks to the virtuous wife.

He points out that there can be a good woman, who is committed to her relationship with a man who treats her badly and gets her pregnant, then when she gets out of that relationship and involved with another man, the cycle is repeated. "That no make she be a bad woman. That make the man them dog whe con woman," he said.

Added to the reading was the example of a Rastafarian man in Waterford, Portmore, St Catherine, who constantly cursed women, saying that they caused sin. However, one evening Warrior King saw him call to a girl on the street, saying "baby me want you. Me love you."

"So even him who cuss woman want a woman," Warrior King said.

He also interrogates the story of the fall of humans from God's grace, as told in Genesis. "Every man and woman responsible for themself. If me eat the apple, me know what is right from wrong. Woman could never cause sin. Me a bun out the whole concept of woman causing sin," Warrior King said. And he puts all that into Virtuous Woman:

"Give ises to the King and his Empress Menen

Who showed us the right and the true way of living

Woman could never cause sin, so listen as I sing

For the women of the earth my joy bell ring."


Royal union


Warrior King looks to Emperor Haile Selassie and Empress Menen and their joint coronation on November 2, 1930, for his stance on the equality of the genders.

"Equality inna Zion, by nature's law that's the way it should go," he states on the recording, and further tells The Sunday Gleaner, "the man is the man in the relationship, but you have to respect the woman".

And he refers to his schooling for the complementary roles of men and women. "Me is an engineer by trade. You have the nut and the bolt. The nut no have no use without the bolt," Warrior King said.

There could be some misinterpretation of the lines, "she'll never take his power she'll jus make him a better man/a good woman is a glory to her man." Warrior King dismisses any notion that a virtuous woman is one who will not threaten her mate's sense of manhood or weaken him.

"A woman is there to complement you. Me always say two head better than one," Warrior King said. Additionally, he said, "she will not make you feel inferior or anything."

He laughs when The Sunday Gleaner asks where the opening "shooba shooba" came from. "Jah jus' give me that," Warrior King said.