Brown Sugar for Black History Month

February 22, 2010

Words by Martei Korley

Do you remember Caron Wheeler? Waaaaaaayyyy before her luminous stint as one of the front women in Soul II Soul (the London sound system which evolved into the avant-pop of Brit Soul ) courtesy of The Funky Dread, Jazzie B; she was a bonafide teen star. Ms. Wheeler fronted the girl trio Brown Sugar at the tender age of 16 and actually managed to score 4 number ones on the British Reggae charts. This was all before Soul II Soul and the very Soul II Soul-ish solo albumย  “UK Black”, both from the late 80s.
Whereas she did great on songs like “Keep on Moving” and became a bonafide world icon on “Back to Life” with her sage-like aura and locks cascading down her back (after a second solo effort, Beach of the War Goddess, she actually became a librarian); we here at Large Up just have to acknowledge her original “Black Pride” from the Brown Sugar days.

Vintage Lover’s Rock production (check the fly keyboard sounds) with a message: What’s not to love? Self-acceptance at face value rather than proliferation a la “we an dem” is so rare to find in songs about race. Then again, Curtis Mayfield didn’t have a problem doing just that in stellar songs like ” I’m so Proud” and “Darker than Blue”. But then again, he wasn’t 16…

Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra is probably best known stateside for their inclusion on Maxi Priest’s “Close to You”; the first song by a Reggae act to reach no. 1 on the US pop charts. Ever.