The Spotlight
Sophia Brown
Cell Block Studio Records / Tad's International
CD / Digital Release
June 6, 2009

Track list
  1. Weak To You
  2. Love You Pure
  3. Thinking Of You
  4. Spotlight
  5. Fearless
  6. Female Thing feat. Macka Diamond
  7. Come Back Home
  8. Hold Me Tight
  9. Precious feat. Junior Kelly
  10. Jerome
  11. Give It Up
  12. Step Back
  13. No Love
  14. I'm A Rose
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 4 Backing : 3/4 Production : 3/4 Sound quality : 4 Sleeve : 3
Reggae songstress Sophia Brown got her introduction to the world of entertainment as a dancer and with her exceptional skills in choreography she created dance moves to songs for Dancehall pioneers Barrington Levy, Little John and Michael Palmer. Her talent as a singer came to the forefront after a progressive relationship with the Jamaica Tourist Board developed into her doing live performances on what was then called the Appleton Estate Tour.

She left her St. Elizabeth home in 1988 to live in St. Catherine -- a short distance away from the music capital of Kingston, JA -- and in 1991 she recorded her first song, the Outa National produced single "Jig Mi". Recognition of her vocal abilities soon followed and in no time she was off doing big shows performing on the same stage with top-rated reggae acts such as Shabba Ranks, Lady Patra, Frankie Paul, and Richie Stephens. In 1992 a collaboration with the renowned Mad Professor flung open many doors for the singer and landed her recording projects across the globe starting with the Cayman Islands in 1995 where she voiced for Strawberry Records which later sold out to CMI Records.

Securing a four-year, four-album deal with CMI, Sophia Brown's accomplishments was soon cut short when the company crashed shortly after. Nonetheless she stayed focused and managed to form an alliance called Music Mecka with Dale Dunkley. This production house was responsible for a host of singles releases during that period, namely "Baby Tonight" and "Give it Up" both of which enjoyed favorable airplay.

Coming back home to Jamaica during summer 2007 she decided to concentrate on recording and from this came her biggest single to date. The 2008 released "Love You Pure" peaked at #6 on the Jamaica Music Countdown charts, earning her a nomination for Best New Female Artiste at the recently concluded EME awards. It was followed by the lullaby tinged single "I'm A Rose", which was produced by Cell Block's Syl Gordon and Sophia Brown herself. A new year now underway Sophia Brown was in February nominated in the "Best New Female Artist" category at the 2009 Excellence In Music & Entertainment Awards.

Sophia Brown's debut album, "The Spotlight", gets started with her recent single, the beautiful "Weak To You". Next in is the hit single "Love You Pure", which still sounds great despite the fact that we've heard this cut so many times by now. Completing the opening of "The Spotlight" is the very enjoyable "Thinking Of You". Three tunes delivered in real fine Lovers rock style and all in all a great way to kick off an album as these efforts are truly worth of hearing. The biographical tune "Spotlight" keeps the vibes flowing throughout, and the same goes for the conscious "Fearless", a notable piece in which she comments on the wrongs in Jamaican society.

The Benzly Hype produced "Female Thing", the dancehall flavored combination with Macka Diamond, doesn't fit the mood of this album at all and besides that it also doesn't make a good impression. Together with the even worser "Step Back", a tune that appears towards the end of the album, it's a track that gets the 'skip' treatment. Even though the poppy "Come Back Home" is a nice effort, it doesn't come close to the quality of the first five tracks. But luckily things take a favourable turn with the solid "Hold Me Tight" and the superb "Precious", a duet done in combination with Junior Kelly. The promiscuous "Jerome" seems to be one of Sophia Brown's more popular songs, but again we are treated to a track that makes us wonder why it is included here because it has a completely different vibe than most of the songs on this album. "Give It Up" is nice to hear, but it's nothing special. Therefore we have to wait until the roots driven "No Love" drops in. A great, haunting tune and one of the standouts on this album. With "I'm A Rose" the album is rounded off in fine style.

Overall, Sophia Brown's "The Spotlight" is a decent debut album that could have been a more balanced collection of tunes if she had only left out a couple of tracks.