It is hard to believe but since the inception of the Reggae Grammy Award back in 1985, a female solo act has never won the award.
Females have won the Reggae Grammy Award as being a part of a winning group but they were not the lead act in any of the groups. Puma Jones won the award as a member of Black Uhuru, the first reggae act to win the award but Mykall Rose was the lead vocalist for the group.
Sharon and Cedella also won Grammy multiple times as part of Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers but as the group’s name suggests, Ziggy Marley was the lead singer.
Reggae has had a fair share of women who actually held their own among the men. There have been excellent reggae females artistes like Marcia Griffiths, Carlene Davis, Queen Ifrica, Judy Mowatt, Lady Saw, Rita Marley, Tanya Stephens, Etana, Diana King and many others but in through the ears of the Grammy committee, they were never good enough to warrant an award.
There were quite a few female reggae artistes who got nominated for the Grammy award,
Judy Mowatt was the first female artiste to be nominated for the reggae Grammy in 1986 with her album “Working Wonders”, however, she lost out to reggae’s first pioneer, Jimmy Cliff, who took home the award with his album “Cliff Hanger”.
In 1992, Rita Marley was nominated for the Grammy with her album “We must carry on”. Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers were also nominated that year with “JahMekYa”. This means that Rita was actually facing off against her own children for the Reggae Grammy. That year, however, Shabba Ranks was just too hot to handle and he took home the Grammy with his album “As Raw As Ever”.
Sister Carol got a nomination in 1997 for her effort on “Lyrically Potent” only to lose to Bunny Wailer who did a tribute to Bob Marley entitled “Hall of Fame: A Tribute to Bob Marley’s 50th Anniversary.”
Since Sister Carol’s nomination in 1997, no female reggae artiste was nominated for the Reggae Grammy in over 20 years. It is almost impossible to fathom why, when artistes like Tanya Stephens, Queen Ifrica, Etana and others have released some quality albums over the years.
2019 might be the year for a woman to finally win the award however. Etana has been nominated for her album “Reggae Forever”.
Women empowerment has been on the rise especially with the #MeToo movement so it would not be too shocking to see Etana walking home with the award. Then again, she is facing off against Sting, Ziggy Marley and Protoje, so to the Grammy committee, she could be as Peter Tosh said, “Too blood claat black fi dem”.