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The queens of Lover’s Rock

SORELY MISSED: (L-R) Louisa Mark and Jean Adebambo

IT HAS been three years since we lost two of the greatest singers in the Lover’s Rock genre, namely Jean Adebambo and Louisa Mark.

Both women made incredible contributions to the unique black British sound, which enjoyed its heyday in the UK during the 1970s and 80s.

Louisa “Markswoman” Mark was born to Grenadian parents who had settled in Ladbroke Grove, west London.

While attending Hammersmith County Secondary School, Louisa received her introduction to the music scene.

In 1973, she was a guest vocalist on Dennis Bovell's Sufferer sound system, then resident at the Metro club in Westbourne Park.

In 1974, the rival sound system owner Lloydie Coxsone invited Mark to enter Star Search, a weekly talent contest held at the Four Aces nightclub in Dalston, east London, where she won first prize 10 weeks in a row.

Coxsone brought her into Gooseberry studios with Bovell's band, Matumbi, to record what could be considered her most famous hit, Caught You in a Lie. The single reportedly sold 10,000 copies in a fortnight.

In 1977, she joined the Trojan label, working closely with producer Clem Bushay and songwriter and arranger Joseph Charles of the band Zabandis

This collaboration produced the track, Keep It Like It Is. Mark later left the company to work for the newly formed Bushay label where the track Six Sixth Street was released, which topped the reggae charts, helping her to win Artist of the Year at the 1978 reggae awards.

Then followed an extended period when the singer kept away from the music business.

Until the early 1980s, when she released her debut album, Breakout, which she described as a disappointment.

Settling in The Gambia in the early 2000s, Louisa became involved in charity work, but on October 17, 2009 she died suddenly of a stomach ulcer at the age of 49.

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JEAN Adebambo was born in Islington, London to a Montserratian mother and a Nigerian father.

While training to be a nurse, she was invited to do a cover version of two tracks Again and Reunited by Ital Records in the early 1980s.

Building a formidable career Adebambo met the Jamaican producer Leonard Chin, for whom she recorded arguably her most notable song, Paradise.

A string of hits followed such as the singles Reaching For A Goal, Hardships of Life and Pipe Dreams. Despite all the success, Adebambo quit the music industry and went back into the medical profession.

She was later persuaded to restart her music career, however on 15 January 2009, it was confirmed that Adebambo had committed suicide, aged 46.

In honour of these remarkable women, an Anniversary of Lover’s Rock Concert will be held on February 16, featuring many of the genres great performers, like Carroll Thompson and Sandra Cross.
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Gone but not forgotten…what Louisa and Jean gave to Lover’s Rock

Mikee Koos - Record producer and concert promoter

I’ve been putting on Lover’s Rock events since 2001 and 2003 was the first Anniversary of Lover’s Rock concert, which featured Louisa Marks.

Her death was such a blow that I didn’t do any more concerts for a while.

But this year, I decided I had to mark the year with something significant for artists such as Louisa, Jean, Deborah Glasgow and so forth, so I decide to do The Anniversary of Lover’s Rock dinner.

People may argue that these ladies aren’t the first queens of Lover’s Rock, but the generation of Lover’s Rock fans really took off when Louisa Mark sang hits like Caught You In A Lie.

We want everyone to know that these great artists have contributed in such a great way. They made a massive impact on Lover’s Rock, any producer will tell you the same thing.

Lover’s Rock was dominated by women, where as reggae on the whole before that era was dominated by men, and these women gave young girls the foresight to say we can be singers as well.

As artists they will always be missed but they will never be forgotten. There is no way, there is no Lover’s Rock party that you will go to and their music will not be played.

Carroll Thomson - Singer

Louisa, being one of the first female singers from the UK, opened the door for young female singers. She embodied Lover’s Rock for females and she was so young as well, everyone could relate to her.

She really represented the youth of the day coming through in the UK, because she made a very British sound.

Her impact was huge; she was a song writer and great musician. Jean was a song writer. She played piano and very much involved in the production and she had a very calm persona on stage.

There’s a huge hole in the industry where they used to be, a space that can never be replaced. They were both excellent performers.

Angie Le Mar - Playwright

I was truly broken when I heard Jean had passed. She called me one evening and said, as it's your last radio show, I'll come on.

I broke down on air, she got to know how she inspired me. I love all those Lover’s Rock singers, they made up my life.

They made us love, laugh, live - we were at our best as young people. Louisa Marks, Deborah Glasgow, they are all Legends. I will never forget them.

Chardel - Singer

Louisa Marks and Jean Adebambo were two great vocalists who weren’t great just vocally but also as song writers and for me to follow in their footsteps has become one of my missions.

It’s an honour to be asked to sing the songs of Jean and Louisa, because they are part of the foundation of Lover’s Rock.

They are a part of the history of where I am coming from as a singer.

Paul Dawkins - Singer

From day one they were two of the great Queens of Lover’s Rock. Their music is going to keep going forever.

When they used to go on stage, they lit it up; you could look on the audience’s faces and know that they were really enjoying it.

Their songs did a lot in their lives for us, as far as remembering back in the days, our first partner, our first dance. It was a great thing that those girls did at that time within the business.

Louisa was a very good friend of mine. She did so much for the music, she is well missed and so will Jean.

Rodney Hinds - Sports Editor at The Voice

There are dozens of classic Lover’s Rock tracks, but when you hear a track from Louisa, and Jean, it’s normally a show stopper.

It’s the one that makes the party go to a different level. Both have made music that has stood the test of time.

They will be missed as musicians but their music is so relevant that the legacy will live on, even with generations that weren’t brought up in the Lover’s Rock era.

*For more information on The Anniversary of Lover’s Rock concert visit www.ticketsforalluse.co.uk

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