Top 15 Reggae Songs Celebrating Women
by Kesha Stewart | Associate Writer
“She’s a precious, precious, precious woman Princess Black...” This song by the late Edi Fitzroy was in praise of Jamaican women. Back in the 1980s, it was a highly motivational anthem for women. The song showed the fierce independence of women especially in lines such as, “ She says she wants to hustle just like a man…” Did you know that there are many songs celebrating the strength, resilience, beauty and vitality of women? Yes, there are! Some songs carry a deep spiritual meaning, others are motivational or romantic and still, others are just humorous and fun. I’m sure you have a list. I've already shared one with you, let’s look at a few more that made mine.
- No Woman Nuh Cry - Bob Marley
A pure and undiluted classic. It’s a comfort to women everywhere. It is a simple song, but deeply meaningful as it reflects on difficult living conditions, poverty, a lack of resources but no lack in will “my feet is my only carriage. And so I’ve got to push on through.” In Jamaica having porridge for dinner is a sign that the ‘food basket’ is empty. The woman is cared for because her partner shares with her from his meagre means. The woman is cared about because her partner shares with her from his meagre means. Therefore, the man gently pleads with the woman not to cry because “everything’s gonna be alright”
- Strength of a Woman – Shaggy
“She’ll put a smile upon your face.
And take you to a higher place,
So don’t you underestimate
The strength of a woman.”
This 2002 song is what I would submit as a classic. This may be debatable but the lyrics highlight the woman as a source of strength and a comforter while retaining her femininity such as being sexy and beautiful. It even invites blessings as it says, “God bless the ground beneath her feet…” The song also reminds us that some women can “nag and be a constant pain”. Any guilty women out there?
- Thank You Mama – Sizzla
It was a big hit in 2006 and is an anthem today. The song expresses love and gratitude to ‘mama’ for enduring pregnancy and the hardships of life while nurturing a son. The son now taking his place in society pledges to make her proud.
- Mama (You can Depend on me Now) Garnett Silk
This song is basically expressing love to ‘mama’ accompanied by a heartfelt promise to take care of her because she did all she could to make her life complete after the passing of his father. The song's most heartfelt line is “mama you can depend on me now, I see you’ve tried your best now it's up to me to do the rest.”
- Jamaican Woman – Fab Five
A song was done in 1987 by the popular band Fab 5. It is a humorous parish by parish account of the characteristics of the women found in each parish. Its catchy lyrics describe Jamaican women as both sugar and salt and advise that some are ‘ginnals’ (tricksters) and will make you ‘bawl’ (cry). It concludes though that Jamaican women are number one across the world because “most of all they have ambition.” The infectious beat will have you dancing too.
- Mama You Alone – I Octane
This song poignantly captures the struggles of a typical Jamaican single mother who is the breadwinner of a household with several children. The singer sees it as a responsibility to care for his siblings and complete chores around the house until his mother returns from selling items at the market. The lyrics are relatable to many as they can recall their mom engaged in various menial jobs just to earn an income to take care of the family's needs even to the point of forgetting her own. “Mama you Alone. I a gwaan tek care a mi likkle bredda dem till yu come home” (Mama you Alone. I am taking care of my little brothers until you get home). This common reality strikes a chord with many because Jamaica has an overwhelming prevalence of matriarchal single parent multi-child households.
- She’s Royal – Tarrus Riley
Well, do you remember where you were when you first heard this song? As soon as I heard It I ran to the computer because I had to see the video. Wow! This song makes women feel beautiful and virtuous. It captures, in essence, how every woman wishes to be viewed… as being royal. “And when they ask what a good woman’s made of she’s not afraid or ashamed of who she is…she's Royal.” This is a song that I believe generations of women will come to appreciate. Even now females of various ages and life experiences have a deep appreciation of this Jamaican hit.
- Beautiful – Damian Marley
It was 2005 when Damian Marley released this love song in tribute to a woman who demonstrates genuine love to her partner. It's a song about a woman who is capable of expressing love maturely. “She’s real..no plaything” She's caring and supportive in it through thick and thin. And who allows him to be a man. In response, he promises to never let her go. My favourite line in this song is, “Use cheddar for the bait and you’ll recruit a rat.” Jamaican street language coins money as ‘cheddar’.
- Lioness is on the Rise – Queen Ifrica
This was released song some years ago. It resonates with women on so many levels. It captures a woman who is willing to take care of the family (taking care of the children thereof), but one who is also willing to take on other less traditional roles (if it's required we’ll be on the frontline). The strength of the woman is evident – “call me anytime never have doubt’. A song that should motivate every woman who is perhaps feeling conflicted by her role in society. A lioness cares for the cubs but also hunts. A lot of women are doing that these days. Balancing work and family life. “A lioness is on the rise don’t you ever have doubt.”
- Jamaican Woman - Etana
I am black and I'm strong in every way… mi nu fear nu foe (I don't fear my foes).” I'm a strong Jamaican woman, describes women who embrace their natural beauty, work to achieve, and are assertive and goal-oriented. Able to love and also to lead. They are not overcome by the surrounding pressures of life. A song that encourages every woman to have self-belief.
- Mama Prayed – Sasco
There are a lot of songs about prayer in relation to Jamaican women and their children. Truthfully we are not the world record holders in churches per square mile ‘just so so suh’ (without good reason). The song celebrates a mother who prayed for her son. The son believes the prayers enabled his eventual successes. Jamaican women are still praying for their sons (and daughters), in fact, there are many of us who “Thank the Lord mama used to pray for me.”
- Never Make Her Sad - Romaine Virgo
Romain Virgo did this tribute to his mother entreating God’s guidance and protection and hoping to be able to give her the things that he can now afford materially. He extols the virtues and recalled her sacrifices which endeared her to him. In it he captures the dream of perhaps every Jamaican child (and I daresay the children the world over) when he expresses the wish never to see her sad and for her to have “everlasting breath” – i.e. long life.
- Wear Yu Size (Wear Your Size) - Lt. Stitchie
Jamaican women love to dress up and look attractive and go to great lengths, sparing no expense to achieve the right look. In this ode to the 1980s laugh riot, Wear Yu Size (Wear Your Size), Jamaican deejay Lt. Stitchie (now a gospel artiste), describes how he met a nice Jamaican lady and invited her on a date, however, she in preparing for the date, Dassa, bought her usual nice clothes but was feeling a little embarrassed by her big feet and purchased shoes two sizes down. Eventually, her discomfort became evident and she couldn’t walk nor keep the shoes on. Her date and bystanders laughed at her. The message here is to be genuine and practice self-acceptance then your real beauty will be appreciated. That's something all women can aspire to achieve.
- Majesty - Chronixx
I guess this song typifies how a woman would like to be seen by her spouse. Women want to be the ‘queen” of their partner’s heart. In this song the woman is described as ‘“always trying her best” and so when “all is done and all is said, you deserve the crown upon your head.” This song may not be the best known on the list but certainly, it's a rootsy, romantic expression highlighting and placing the woman where she is understood that she is as favoured and beautiful as The Queen of Sheba or Cleopatra amongst others.
These 15 songs mentioned here just scratches the surface. I tried to capture different types of songs. Some were romantic, some motivational, some highly descriptive of the women and their struggles. You may even find one that makes you smile, reflect or change your perspective about yourself.
If you didn’t find your favourite here, go ahead and suggest it in the comment. That should be fun and interesting.
I also recommend you read Top 10, Most Influential Jamaican Artistes
In My Opinion
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