Within the endless history of music there have been great artists whose voices have broken the barriers of the socially accepted, they broke the mold and made one so universal it lacked carvings, rhythms or colors. Great performers who made the platforms a free and safe space where they expressed aloud everything that vibrated inside them, like the incomparable Ophlin Russell-Myers better known as Sister Nancy or Muma Nancy, the most dominant voice of Reggae and the first female Dj of the Jamaican genre.
Sister Nancy was born on 2 of January of 1962 and Kingston, grows alongside their 15 siblings in a conservative Christian and traditionalist home, thus, another lifestyle was expected of Ophlin. One in which she would exclusively care for the home and her elders, free from all types of drugs and dedicated to the well-being of society and the family, which would be very good for anyone who wants to be part of it, but Ophlin's mission was another, completely different.
He begins to have his first major appearances with The Twelve Tribes of Israel Soundsystem, Jahlovemuzik Sound System with his brother Robert - better known as Brigadier Jerry (Dj de Dancehall)-, He is also part of the Stereophonic Sound System with Dj General Echo. But nevertheless, Nancy's family disagreed with the type of life she led and relentlessly tried to persuade her of the world of Dancehall and encourage her to make Christian music, like his father.
But life for Ophlin went beyond conservative and Christian traditions., in an act of rebellion, she decides to run away from home to follow in the footsteps of her brother Brigadier and search for herself, a future in music. The opportunity presents itself to you at ST. Thomas when Dj Chalice gives him the opportunity to make his dream come true, be dj. Nancy with just 16 years.
Sister Nancy's desire to be a Reggae DJ was beginning to come true, in 1980 Reggae great producer Winston Riley takes her to a studio and records her first single "Papa Dean" for the Techniques label, performs at the Sunshine Reggae Festival and is the first woman to perform at the show.
Success continues to grow in 1982 and record other singles like “Money can't buy me Love” “Transport Connection” and the best song of all, the classic and unsurpassed "Bam Bam", that same year he released his first album called "One Two", an album consisting of 10 tracks. Full of roots reggae and the right touch of Dancehall, Sister's voice is soft, sweet and distinctive. The sound of the bass is present in all the tracks, is the heart of the themes, the sounds of dub envelop you from head to toe as in "I am a Geddion". A disc full of layers, playing songs like being young and rebellious like "Gwan a School", her personal manifesto and close to her experiences "Only Woman with Dj Degree" and the classic "Bam Bam". A disc, packed with immortal tunes and rhythms.
Sister Nancy's career and success is unstoppable, leaves the Techniques label and begins working with producer Henry “Junjo” Lawles with whom he records “A No Any Man Can Test Sister Nancy”, “Bang Belly”, then, would collaborate with artist Yellowman. He continues to be part of the JahLove Festival with his brother Brigadier Jerry and that same year (1982) both have their debut at London's Brixton.
We could say that Nancy would have achieved each and every one of her goals, from those planned to those he improvised throughout his career, but nevertheless, the law of physics is infallible and everything that goes up must come down. This time, it was by choice and in 1996 Muma moves to New Jersey and puts music aside to dedicate herself to working in banking, incredible, illogical but true.
Nancy despite being the first female dj, the first female voice of dancehall, she chose to retire to give a chance to all those who would have the same dream of her, I wanted everyone to reach and achieve everything that she did. A noble sacrifice worthy of a queen like Sister Nancy, all the barriers she broke inspired great vocalists to do the same and follow in her footsteps. Is she the muse of Lady Saw, Sister Carol, Carla Marshall y Macka Diamond, to name a few.
For Muma, Reggae was more than rhythms and songs, it was the music that set her free. The one who gave her a space in a musical environment fully ruled by men and she knew how to earn her place and the respect of her peers. This opened the doors to the guild, dancehall has freed many women from being part of a conservative life where they would never be happy. Thanks to Sister Nancy there are now thousands of empowered female voices, independent and listened.
At 2016 Ophlin Russell-Myers leaves her formal job to return with her first love, music. He was at the Rebel Salute in Jamaica (2017) and at the brooklyn bowl. Your desire to continue singing, to continue being the queen of reggae, it is insatiable.
Muma was the girl who always went to dancehall parties, the first DJ of the genre and the one who gave her a voice, an anthem that has been sampled more than we can imagine.
Sister Nancy is a Reggae classic, a legend that writes itself and that summarizes in two words a great musical career:
By Daniela Alayeto, from Spain.