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'Nursing grounded me from the pitfalls of entertainment' - Marcia Aitken returns to music

Published:Friday | November 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew
Marcia Aitken returns to the Jamaican stage after 30 years.

The name Marcia Aitken may not mean much to the new generation of reggae and dancehall music aficionados, but once the songs I'm Still in Love With You Boy and My Man are mentioned, some of the lyrical history starts to resurface. Both tracks became hit singles in 1977 and '78, respectively, earning top spots on reggae charts in Jamaica and internationally.

For nearly a decade, the lover's rock singer was a constant on stage, but after exploring the live-music scene as a backing vocalist for Lloyd Parkes and We The People band, recording with Joe Gibbs and facing the struggles of the entertainment industry full on, Aitken thought she would like to try something new and used her move to the United States in 1982 as motivation.

"At first, there were no intentions of or even thoughts of pursuing a music career. It was just about taking care of my family, my husband, and my child," Aitken told The Sunday Gleaner. The singer, who had an interest in healthcare, began the journey of becoming a nurse by taking care of the elderly and children. Eventually, she enrolled in the Registered Nursing (RN) programme at the Borough of Manhattan Community College while establishing the popular Nostrand Eatery in Brooklyn New York with her husband.


Harmonising act


"There was a time when I thought I could not do nursing. Having to play the roles of manager and cook at the restaurant while attending school affected my studies. I was doing so much that I did not achieve it at first try, failing the RN certification exams by two points," the singer shared. She worked as a nurse for 20 years before receiving her licence.

"Sometimes you go around in circles until you find ground to stand without feeling like you are falling into a pit. Nursing grounded me from the pitfalls of the entertainment industry," she said. "The music industry causes misery more time, especially since I started so young. it turns you off."

She admitted that nursing still had its ups and downs, "Working in paediatrics and geriatrics is the best of both worlds, but the vulnerability and death, which is inevitable, is heartbreaking."


Caught the bug


While it has been reported in the media that Aitken had retired from music, she prefers to call it "a much too long break". Despite her other responsibilities, she still found time to record and release the 2014 album Conception to Redemption, which had gospel renditions of the secular tracks I'm So In Love With You Lord and My God (instead of My Man). However, the album never got the push it needed.

"Music is my first love, and for a few years now, I have caught the bug to do some music and reignite that passion. I want to do my music until I can't do it anymore," she said.

She is working on new material and has noted that she would like to collaborate with Beres Hammond in addition to a few of the upcoming reggae acts.

Aitken plans to use the opportunity to perform at Rebel Salute 2019 to breathe life into her music career as well as network with entertainers and music-industry professionals. "As the winter approaches, I am protecting my throat because I don't want to be hoarse when I come to perform. I want the people to see that my voice is still as strong now as it was then. I am up and really looking out for somebody that I know can handle and manage the thing properly," she concluded.