Donna Marie joined the Jet Star camp around the time of the new millennium, soon after the label’s own studio facilities were completed. Her arrival gifted Jet Star a singer blessed with the kind of clear, melodious tone that could only have been honed in church circles, and yet was ideally suited to a variety of different musical settings, including reggae, POP, R&B, ballads, gospel and lovers rock.
Raised in Santa Cruz a small town nestled midway between Mandeville and Black River in the Jamaican parish of St. Elizabeth she’d started singing in her local choir before leaving for England over a decade ago, and embarkingupon her musical career in earnest.
That she was a marvellous talent was never in doubt. By the time she joined Jet Star she was already relatively well-known on the nightclub and reggae gospel/lovers rock circuits after several well-received albums for Sidney Crooks and Londisc’s Jeff Peart, who produced her hit versions of Whitney Houston’s Your Love Is My Love and Celine Dion’s Think Twice. Both were big sellers during the late nineties, although it was her two songs on Jet Star’s Pop
Hits Inna Reggae Vol.1 (What Can I Do and All I Have) and then her debut Charm set, Can’t Stop Loving You, that really got the ball rolling.
Her effect on mainstream reggae audiences was immediate. Here was a singer who could breathe fresh life into familiar material, and who’d already experienced considerable success in transposing soul and R&B classics into reggae, even whilst continuing to write memorable songs of her own. (For instance, four of the songs on Can’t Stop Loving You including the title track and Thin Little Lies were Donna’s own compositions, and there’s another prize winning selection here, with I Will Be Calling, I’ve Been Waiting, Hit Or Miss and Marvellous itself all being self-penned.) She would soon become a star feature of Jet Star’s best-selling Pop Hits In A Reggae and Big People’s Music compilations, then return to her gospel roots for 2003’s acclaimed Now Is The Time set, as produced by Ruff Cutt’s Tony Philips.
Members of the Ruff Cutt band (an aggregate of North London musicians long considered the UK’s finest reggae group) feature prominently on this latest album, with Philips, bassist Fish Brown and keyboard player Carlton “Bubblers” Ogilvie all producing individual tracks, together with Groove And A Quarter’s Dwayne Burke. The result is a bright, traditional reggae
sound steeped in authenticity, and that happily guarantees quality in every department. Add Donna’s sweet vocals and the results are irresistible, as is the choice of songs and material. Among the most familiar are covers of Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood and Rock My Boat; Bob Andy’s Stay, Lorna Bennett’s Breakfast In Bed and Phyllis Dillon’s mid-sixties’ rocksteady hit
One Life To Live, all of which confirm her mastery of the reggae version. Lovers rock fans won’t want to miss her and Gregory Isaacs’ opening No More Chance either a collaboration possibly inspired by their joint appearance at a Luciano show held at the London Astoria last summer, and that like the entire album, already has the aura of an classic.
01.No More Chance
02.I Will Be Calling
03.You Don’t Have To Be A Star
08.Get It While It’s Hot
10.I’ve Been Waiting
11.Breakfast In Bed
12.Bottles & Cans
13.One Life To Live
14.Rock My Boat
15.Reggae Beat Goes On
16.Hit Or Miss