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Sonia Pottinger leaves rich legacy

Published:Sunday | November 7, 2010 | 11:00 AM
Pottinger

Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer

Sonia Pottinger, who blazed a trail as reggae's most successful female music producer, died Wednesday evening at her St Andrew home. She was 79 years old.

David Plummer, the youngest of Pottinger's four children, told The Gleaner that his mother had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease in recent years. He did not say if it caused her death.

Born in St Thomas, Pottinger was introduced to the music business by her husband L.O. Pottinger, an engineer who had relative success as a producer in the mid-1960s. She went on her own during that period, scoring a massive hit with Every Night, a ballad by singer Joe White.

Pottinger had considerable success in the late 1960s with her Tip Top, High Note and Gay Feet labels. She produced Errol Dunkley's debut album,

Presenting Errol Dunkley, and hit songs by vocal groups like The Melodians (Swing and Dine), The Gaylads (Hard to Confess) and Guns Fever by The Silvertones.

In 1974, Pottinger bought the Treasure Isle catalogue and operations of pioneer producer Arthur 'Duke' Reid. She had even more success in the era of roots-reggae, producing chart-toppers by Marcia Griffiths (Hurting Inside and Stepping Out of Babylon) and Culture (Natty Never Get Weary).

Errol Brown, Reid's nephew, was engineer for many of Pottinger's productions in the 1970s. He said she was no pushover in the studio.

Respect

"She loved the music ... loved it too much," Brown said. "She knew what she wanted in the studio, and had a lot of respect for the musicians."

Musicologist and sound-system operator, Winston 'Merritone' Blake, said Pottinger was a sharp businesswoman in a male-dominated field.

"She did her thing differently. She was always very dignified," Blake said.

Pottinger is the latest death in local music. Singers Lincoln 'Sugar' Minott and Gregory Isaacs, two giants of lovers rock reggae, died in July and October, respectively.

Sonia Pottinger is survived by three of her children: Sharon, Ronette and David as well as 11 grandchildren.


'She knew what she wanted in the studio, and had a lot of respect for the musicians.'