Men are much more often credited in the charts, not only as performers (solo and band members), but also as songwriters and producers (these proportions in popular music are widely discussed in The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s report from 2019). Therefore, more is said and written about them, and they reach more listeners.
On International Women’s Day, I would like to give a shout-out to some talented contemporary ska and reggae female artists, whom I’ve been listening a lot to recently.
Le Birrette is a female ten-piece band from Bologna. The girls (Annazza, Zazzi, Giuliana, Marianna, Paola, Katia, Michela Warrior, Claudia, Paola and Rosa Begonia) have been playing ska, reggae and rocksteady since 2015. Two years ago they independently released their debut album “Gals Songs Only”, with the song “Wounded Man”. I am very curious how they perform live and I am looking forward to their concert at this year’s This Is Ska in Rosslau.
The Kinky Coo Coo’s
The Kinky Coo Coo’s from Barcelona is one of the longest-acting Spanish ska and reggae bands. It has been around for 20 years and during that time they changed musicians. Now there are 3 women in the band’s line-up – vocalists Leire Etxarri and Gemma Solés and trumpeter Carme Martínez. Their last full-length album, “Sweet, Fun & Ready”, was released in 2013. And a previously unreleased song “Sunshine Of Freedom” hit the compilation of Catalan bands “Jamaicat”, released at the beginning of the year by Liquidator Music.
Emily Capell, a charismatic singer and songwriter from London, is a slightly different story. Her musical inspirations are very diverse – from Dolly Parton, through Small Faces to Joe Strummer. At the end of last year, she released her long-playing debut “Combat Frock”. It’s a British-style ska with good and witty lyrics. In 2019, she played with The Selecter on its 40th anniversary tour, and this year she will be supporting Madness.
We move from Europe to the United States. The Fuss from Washington, D.C. is an eight-piece band, half of which are women – singer Andi, saxophonist Megan, drummer Cati and Julia, who plays the keyboard. If you don’t know their rocksteady nad early reggae debut album “Ourselves” from 2018 yet, you should catch up as soon as possible.
Bite Me Bambi
Although they haven’t released any CD yet, the musicians from Bite Me Bambi are not new to the scene. For many years they played in various bands in Orange County, California. Trombonist T-Bone Willy and guitarist Brian Mashburn co-created the original Save Ferris. And the singer, Tahlen Chikami, not only sings but also writes songs, plays the guitar and has been performing on stage since the age of 9. Local journalists foretell them a career in No Doubt’s style. Ska in the United States is strong again, so who knows.
Stop The Presses
The Ska/reggae project Stop The Presses was born in the minds of a married couple living in New York, Ali Culotta, who sings and plays keyboards and guitarist Danny Portilla. They released two EPs, “Does It Still Look Pretty?” (2011) and “Eskalando” (2013) and last year the album “Money In The Bank”, which they worked on with Agent Jay from The Slackers.
Los Overlines is a band from Monterrey in Mexico. They have been a part of the local ska and early reggae scene since 2008, but in 2010, after releasing the album “Agua de Jamaica”, they took a five-year break. Two vocalists, Tania Moreno and Estefany Pardo, sing in the band. At the beginning of the year Los Overlines recorded a video for “Real Hot”, and in the near future they would like to release a vinyl.