Irie Aria: Bob Andy Goes to the Opera

October 21, 2011

Words by Jesse Serwer

One of Jamaica’s greatest songwriters, Bob Andy has kept a low profile in recent years. His first songwriting credit in over a decade is for “Constellation” by Marie-Claire (at left in the above photo), a Dominica-born, Bronx-raised soprano who is about to release an entire album of reggae songs with opera vocals. That album, called Dreamland, also features “Rastaman Chant,” a collaboration with Spragga Benz, of all people, which you can stream below, along with “Constellation.” We gotta be honest, these songs confirm for us our suspicions that reggae artists doing opera > opera singers doing reggae. Still, we applaud Ms. Marie-Claire for her effort, and encourage you to form your opinions about her take on reggae.

[audio:|titles=marie-claire-constellation] Marie-Claire, “Constellation”

[audio:|titles=marie-claire feat. Spragga Benz-rastaman chant] Marie-Claire featuring Spragga Benz, “Rastaman Chant”

Andy’s re-emergence comes as he is set to be honored with a tribute concert in Kingston next week, where artists such as Bunny Wailer, Duane Stephenson, John Holt, Ken Boothe, Marcia Griffiths, Tarrus Riley, Tony Rebel, Mutabaruka and Protoje will perform hits from his catalog. A founding member of the Paragons, Andy had numerous solo hits in the late ’60s before pairing with Marcia Griffiths to form Bob and Marcia in the early ’70. Those ‘6os classics were collected on 1970’s Bob Andy’s Songbook, a landmark release in Jamaican music whose songs have been covered by everyone from Taj Mahal to Barringon Levy. More recently, Andy has moonlighted as an actor, making cameos in The Mighty Quinn, among other movies.