Carlene Davis happy to celebrate her Reggae Month birthday - Releasing new music Friday
Birthday girl Carlene Davis is certainly festive as she pauses to celebrate her birthday today, and makes the point that somehow the birthdays of the women in the industry who are born in Reggae Month, February, are not acknowledged. But that omission cannot take away the joy of the spiritually grounded minister and singer, who, quite philosophical in her outlook, noted that “time alone will tell”.
“What a celebration! We live to see another year! The beauty of it is that I am alive and I am grateful, stronger, wiser and more confident. February is a great month to be born in. It’s Reggae Month and I am truly one of Jamaica’s reggae ambassadors. The sound of reggae has been a force, it has kept my family, and it has sent my children to university,” she told The Gleaner.
Reggae Month, since its inception, has recognised the February 1 birthday of Dennis Brown and fully embraced the February 6 birthday of Bob Marley with special calendar events in their honour.
The Caribbean Hall of Fame Awardee, whose career seamlessly moved from the secular to the gospel stage in 1996, is caught up celebrating life this particularly birthday, having navigated some “curved balls” that were thrown at her family in 2020. One such was a recent health dilemma involving husband and manager Tommy Cowan of Glory Music, and which forced them to take a pass on Fun in the Son, their annual celebration of music, praise, worship and mission.
OUR HEALTH IS OUR PRIORITY
“Although Tommy did elective surgery, we decided that the priority is our health, so wisdom ruled, and he went and did what had to be done. So, for me there is a lot to celebrate this year. And, we just finished mixing a song that God used to carry us through the challenge of last November. This song moved through our hearts and maintained us. It will be released on Friday,” Davis shared, keeping the title close to her chest.
The songbird, who for many years celebrated her birthday with the children and staff at the Maxfield Park Children’s Home in St Andrew, this year has two wishes, “to know what exactly God desires of me and step into it” and simply to go for a drive in the country. “Because of this bubble that we have been living in, it would be a nice feeling to just go driving and looking at the landscape. Jamaica is beautiful, and just to be outside enjoying the scenery would be nice,” she said.
But, the mother of two is expecting her family to surprise her. “My family has a way of hiding things, so I am not sure what they have planned,” she shared with The Gleaner.
Born in Colonel’s Ridge, Clarendon, Carlene Davis moved to England with her parents at the age of 14, where she began to perform professionally a year later, playing guitar in an all-female band before joining the pop trio Toreadores. She then moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she lived for eight years. Her debut single, recorded in Toronto, was a version of Leaving on a Jet Plane, and she had a local hit with a version of Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come.
In 1980, she returned to Jamaica to advance her career, and performed at the Reggae Sunsplash in 1981. Also in 1981, she finished runner-up in the Festival Song Contest with Peace and Love. She had hits in Jamaica with Like Old Friends Do, It Must Be Love, Winnie Mandela, Stealing Love on the Side, Dial My Number and Going Down to Paradise. She released a string of albums in the 1980s and during the first half of the 1990s, becoming one of Jamaica’s more established female reggae artistes. In 1985, she recorded a duet with Gregory Isaacs titled Feeling Irie on his Private Beach Party album. In 1990, Carlene Davis was named Best Female Vocalist at the Caribbean Music Awards.
After being diagnosed with cancer in 1996, she rededicated her life to Christ. An ordained minister with a PhD in pastoral counselling and a graduate of the Ron Kenoly Praise Academy, her skills as a praise and worship leader, songwriter/arranger styled with the rhythms of Jamaica, are quite unique. “By God’s grace I am now led to the places I once performed going beyond denominational and cultural barriers, witnessing on television, radio, conferences and concerts, bringing the light of Jesus to the world, which is indeed a privilege,” she is quoted in her biography as saying.