The UK reggae community is still in shock over the loss of their beloved sister, friend and colleague Vyris Edgehill-Nunes. After open-heart surgery last month Vyris seemed to be recovering well and appeared to be on the mend. Unfortunately, things took a turn for the worse; Vyris relapsed and was re-admitted into St Mary’s Hospital, she passed away on Friday 12th July. She is survived by her husband, five brothers, two sisters, five daughters, eight grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

Marcia "Vyris" Edgehill was born in Jamaica on June 18th 1954 into a god-fearing family. She became a regular churchgoer and loved to sing in the choir. Vyris came to England when she was 11 years old and went on to attend Willesden High School in NW London. After the death of both her parents at an early age Vyris became ‘mother and father’ for her younger siblings. After leaving school, Vyris pursued a career in music and supplied backing vocals for a broad spectrum of national and international artists and production houses; Ashanti Roy & The Congos, Prince Lincoln, Vincent Nap, Sanchez, Ruff Cutt, Freddie McGregor, Nereus Joseph, Bim Sherman, ARM Productions, Sylvia Tella, Adrian Sherwood and Stingray to name a few.


In 1981 a group of ‘sisters’ formed the group African Woman, one of the first female reggae bands in the world. The group underwent personnel changes, including Vyris joining as lead singer, then reformed a year later as Akabu; an acronym for Africans Who Know About Black Unity. With Vyris as lead vocalist, Akabu toured the world, creating a sizable global following of reggae fans who were spellbound by the sight of a group of women who could sing and play world class reggae whilst spreading messages of love, peace and humanity. On the other side of London, Abakush, a group of likeminded sisters, who like themselves were also working hard, making and promoting real music with real meaning and real message. Even though both groups were fully aware of each other, it was like they had been leading parallel lives in south west & north west London. The twain did however meet, Akabu and Abakush merged with additional members and the 14 strong supergroup Sista was born in 2000. Vyris continued to write and perform with Sista who received great acclaim from music critics worldwide. Her recent studio work with the Jet Star label has included albums with Junior Kelly and Daweh Congo. Vyris, with her distinct sweet voice and powerful harmonies in recent years backed Yabby You and the late Bim Sherman amongst others.

Vyris was instrumental in the development of ‘live’ UK reggae and helped provide a platform for numerous individuals and groups; she was also a gifted vocalist, lyricist and producer, penning songs for a variety of reggae projects. Sista "Women In Reggae" have vowed to carry on their great works in tribute to their dearly departed Sister Vyris.

‘…Say unto Wisdom, Thou art my sister; and call understanding thine kinswoman’ Proverbs 7

Selective Discography :

  • African Woman - African Woman Abroad
  • Akabu - Akabu
  • Akabu - Warrior Queen
  • Sista "Women In Reggae" - Live At Montreux 2000
  • Akabu And The Circuit - Watch Yourself (12" Single)
  • Akabu - Bim Sherman / Roots Radics - Stop That Train / Training (12" Single)
  • Akabu - Life In The Ghetto (12" Single)

Article & Discopgraphy: Teacher & Mr. T.
Most of the text provided courtesy of Xodus Music, London UK

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