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SONIA POTTINGER: JAMAICA MUSIC’S FIRST FEMALE PRODUCER!

IN the Alpha Male-dominated reggae arena of the 1970s, Sonia Pottinger more than held her own. Not many people outside music circles knew that the music’s first female producer accounted for some of that decade’s most memorable songs.

Sonia Pottinger

Sonia Pottinger

‘Miss Pottinger’, as she was known, had considerable success from the late 1960s with the Tip Top, High Note and Gay Feet labels. She came into the business on the heels of her husband, LO Pottinger, an engineer who had measured success as a producer in the mid-1960s.

Pottinger’s first hit was the ballad, Every Night, by singer Joe White. She went mainstream in the late 1960s by producing Presenting Errol Dunkley, that singer’s debut album.

Her hits include some of the rocksteady era’s finest: Swing and Dine by The Melodians, Hard to Confess by The Gaylads, That’s Life by Delano Stewart andGuns Fever by The Silvertones.

Sonia-Eloise-Pottinger

An astute businesswoman, Pottinger bought the Treasure Isle catalogue of pioneer producer Arthur ‘Duke’ Reid in 1974, shortly after his death. Her success continued throughout the roots-reggae era, led by chart-toppers from Marcia Griffiths ( Hurting Inside and Stepping Out of Babylon), Judy Mowatt ( I Shall Sing), Culture ( Natty Never Get Weary and Stop The Fussing and Fighting).

Errol Brown worked as an engineer for Pottinger during her heyday of the 1970s. He remembers her as a no-nonsense businesswoman and savvy producer who had a say in her productions.

“She loved the music … loved it too much. She knew what she wanted in the studio, and had a lot of respect for the musicians,” said Brown.

Jamaican music has not produced a visible female producer since Sonia Pottinger broke through the proverbial glass ceiling. Her catalogue is among the finest in reggae, testament to her determination to succeed.

A recipient of the Order of Distinction, she died in November 2010 at age 79.

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