Raised in Santa Cruz a small town nestled midway between Mandeville and Black River in the Jamaican parish of St. Elizabeth Donna Marie started singing in her local choir before leaving for England over a decade ago, and embarkingupon her musical career in earnest.
That she was a marvellous talent was never in doubt. By the time she joined Jet Star she was already relatively well-known on the nightclub and reggae gospel/lovers rock circuits after several well-received albums for Sidney Crooks and Londisc’s Jeff Peart, who produced her hit versions of Whitney Houston’s Your Love Is My Love and Celine Dion’s Think Twice. Both were big sellers during the late nineties, although it was her two songs on Jet Star’s Pop
Hits Inna Reggae Vol.1 (What Can I Do and All I Have) and then her debut Charm set, Can’t Stop Loving You, that really got the ball rolling.
Teacher & Mr. T.
Her effect on mainstream reggae audiences was immediate. Here was a singer who could breathe fresh life into familiar material, and who’d already experienced considerable success in transposing soul and R&B classics into reggae, even whilst continuing to write memorable songs of her own. Donna is blessed with an instantly recognisable voice and she's at her best covering successful tunes or riddims. She would soon become a star feature of Jet Star’s best-selling Pop Hits In A Reggae and Big People’s Music compilations, then return to her gospel roots for 2003’s acclaimed Now Is The Time set, as produced by Ruff Cutt’s Tony Philips.
Members of the Ruff Cutt band (an aggregate of North London musicians long considered the UK’s finest reggae group) feature prominently on this latest album, with Philips, bassist Fish Brown and keyboard player Carlton “Bubblers” Ogilvie all producing individual tracks, together with Groove And A Quarter’s Dwayne Burke. The result is a bright, traditional reggae sound steeped in authenticity. In combination with Donna’s sweet vocals the results are what one would expect of sweet voiced Donna Marie. Among the most familiar are covers of Bob Marley’s Mellow Mood and Rock My Boat. Then there's also a fine do-over of Bob Andy’s Stay and Lorna Bennett’s hit tune Breakfast In Bed and Phyllis Dillon’s mid-sixties’ rocksteady hit One Life To Live. Lovers rock fans will be delighted with her and Gregory Isaacs’ tune No More Chance -a collaboration possibly inspired by their joint appearance at a Luciano show held at the London Astoria last summer. But Donna's also capable of writing some nice tunes herself. Do check out the groovy uptempo tune I Will Be Calling and I’ve Been Waiting , Hit Or Miss and the title track Marvellous.