It doesn't happen that often, but every now and then one is captivated by a tune and or an artist in such a way that it never lets loose again. In this case it happened at a dance some years ago. The selector of the sound system put the needle to a 12" single and out of the speakers came a tune which instantly blew us away! It was pure excitement that forced us to check the label for the name of the artist and title of the killer tune. It turned out to be "Petty Petty Murderer" by Scion (pronounce Skee-on) Sashay Success. When afterwards seeking for information about this fine dancehall reggae singer and trying to purchase his albums it was really astonishing how hard it is to get both. Even respected reggae books like for example Steve Barrow and Peter Dalton's "The Rough Guide To Reggae" and "The Virgin Encyclopedia Of Reggae" contain no or only sparse information. Scion Success' first two albums are almost impossible to get and at the moment the same goes for the two CD's that were released in 1998 and 1999. However, bit by bit we finally managed to gather some more information about Scion Sashay Success and thanks to Small Axe's Ray Hurford we also got his four albums on minidisc.

Scion Sashay Success, real name George Narcisse, was born in Kingston, Jamaica W.I., were he grew up prior to his moving to New York in 1977. Having music singing in church as a part of his background and besides that growing up in an environment where reggae music has a serious impact on all aspects of everyday life, it's obvious that - if you have the skills, the talent, but above all the motivation and the interest - you start concentrating on a musical career, and so did Scion. As a youth he heard the music from Coxone Dodd's "Studio One" and Duke Reid's "Treasure Isle", and witnessed the birth of reggae in the late sixties, early seventies. One of the Jamaican singers who probably inspired Scion most - and not only him but also for example Frankie Paul and Luciano to name a few - was the "crownprince of reggae"... Dennis "Emmanuel" Brown. It was actually Scion's cousin Horace Martin, a fine singer in his own right, who gave him that real push to start a musical career as he was always singing Dennis Brown songs when Scion was around. Being just out of High School in Jamaica he went to New York where he worked on developing his skills as a singer.

However, it lasted some five years before Scion Sashay Success really bursted on the New York reggae scene, due to his teaming up with Percy Chin and Hyman Wright of Brooklyn-based "Jah Life Records" (actually a label that grew out of a leading New York sound system). It led to the recording of his first (12") single, "Can't Leave Jah Alone/Dancehall Queen", which was released in February 1983. The record proved very successful and very soon Scion became one of New York most anticipated reggae singers. With the follow-up singles "Pain A Back/My Love" and "Put It On/Take It Off" and also causing nuff excitement at dances Scion managed to establish himself as New York's premier reggae singer within one year.

The Jah Life release "Put It On/Take It Off" brought Scion Sashay Success - and thus also New York dancehall reggae - to an international level as this record got rave reviews and sold very well in the UK. Scion made a serious impact in the UK and was voted one of the best new reggae artists of 1984 by UK's Black Echoes Magazine. Then further recordings were done for artist/producer Mikey Jarrett ("Young African/Settle Them A Settle"), again Jah Life ("Gun Shot Dance") and for Philip Smart ("Cry Fi Mi Girl"), the latter being his studio engineer on all his releases so far. After notching up hits in the US and the UK, Jamaica was next, thus making Scion one of the first New York-based reggae singers to mean anything in Kingston, Jamaica.

His debut album, simply entitled "Scion Sashay Success", was released by Jah Life and contained most of the tunes that put him on the reggae map. With this album Scion conquered the dancehalls and especially the "Sound Bwoy Fall" cut caused a stir and was regarded the ultimate draw to bury a Sound. In the second half of the eighties Scion started to do his own production work and released "No Worry You Mind" on his newly formed "Selectors Choice' label. On the other hand he also returned to Philip Smart to co-produce "Nuff A We A Rude Boy" (a 12" single released on the "Eclipse" label). He continued to work with Philip Smart and together they produced Scion's second album "In The Balance", which saw its release on the "Eclipse" label in 1991. Next to the outrageous song "The Jury", "Free Mandella" is one of the key tracks on this album. This piece fits in an interesting trilogy featuring the 1990 released combination tune with Sister Carol entitled "Mandella's Release", the already mention "Free Mandella" and Jah Life's 7" single "Mandella Is Free". During the mid-nineties not much was heard of Scion Sashay Success, but then - late 1997 - Jet Star announced the release of a new, Bunny Gemini produced album entitled "Voices In The Sand". (Initially it was called "No Surrender", to be released on Bunny Gemini's "Record Factory" imprint). Jet Star unleashed the album in 1998 and although it didn't reach a wide audience reggae connoisseurs regarded "Voices In The Sand" one of the best albums of 1998. This album not only shows new dimensions to Scion's works and his natural growth as a singer, but also fully showcases the man's exceptional songwriting abilities. The title track is a good example for this. Not only is it a very unusual song, but also the "Old Fashioned Way" riddim is almost never heard.

The "Voices In The Sand" album was soon followed by Sion's first self-produced CD, "Decisions", on his own "Mandisa" label. This 19-track CD features new songs, a couple of previously unreleased old titles and some covers like for example Michael Prophet's "Here Comes The Bride". Although the album got some good reactions it hasn't been widely distributed, which prevents Scion Sashay Success becoming a household name among the reggae massive worldwide. Thus he still maintains the status of "mysterious singer extraordinaire".

The Albums :

  • Love Sister Carol
  • Roots Girl
  • No Touch The Style
  • Every Style Get Regular
  • Politician
  • Mandela Free
  • Prom
  • Brown Eyes
  • Life Time
  • My Love
  • Roots Girl

Article: Teacher & Mr. T.
Sources: "The Rough Guide To Reggae", "Small Axe 2 Vol. 3", "Steve James' Lovers Rock website" & "Sim's Reggae Page"

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