Mon | Oct 15, 2018

Marcia Griffiths goes from Carib to Studio One

Published:Sunday | April 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Marcia Griffiths

Whether by the straight route, the crow tends to fly off from the Carib Cinema, Cross Roads, property's back gate and on to Brentford Road then turning left, the movie house is very close to music house.

So it did not take long for an 11-year-old Marcia Griffiths, her father and radio broadcaster Lynford Anderson to get to Studio One on Easter Monday 54 years ago, after Marcia Griffiths had bowled the holiday concert audience over with her rendition of Carla Thomas' No Time to Lose.

It was an 11-year-old Griffiths' first big stage showing and, at Studio One, she showed the same sass and confidence which had carried her through at the Carib when the band initially hesitated to play for her.

In a moment of divine intervention, Griffiths told The Sunday Gleaner, "God was with me from that time. I heard a voice say, 'little girl, start sing'." She did and the band had to follow, the audience demanding an encore - even of the same song - when she was finished.

There was no re-entry to the stage for Griffiths that day; she had another debut to make, on vinyl.

Anderson took Griffiths - still in the dress with white bodice and silver lower section she had worn on stage - to Clement 'Sir Coxson' Dodd.

Normally, she said, persons had to audition, but she went straight in. Anderson told Dodd how she had just performed at Carib, and Griffiths was asked if she had a song she could record.

Strictly speaking she did not - but she had access to one written by someone else. It was Wall of Love, the song which Phillip James, of the Blues Busters duo had heard Marcia harmonising with the writer, Uton, in Hannah Town as he played his guitar. It was James who had insisted she be a part of the Easter Monday concert, against the wishes of some persons, hence the band's reluctance to play.

A message was sent to Uton to come quickly and he did, guitar at the ready. But, Griffiths said, when "we went into the studio, Jackie Mittoo and all the musicians were there, Uton could not sing".

At the Carib concert, Griffiths had been very confident; in the studio it was the same for a girl so slender she was nicknamed 'Toothpick', so she sang and keyboard player Mittoo worked out the song.

Griffiths knew Wall of Love inside out, as "it is something I used to sing every night", harmonising with Uton in Hannah Town.

"That day was such a beautiful day for me," Griffiths said of her double Easter Monday debut on stage and in studio.