By Kamaria Muntu
18 December 2012, 13:45 GMT
“I love the Queen. She is a beautiful lady, and apart from being a beautiful lady, a wise lady and a wonderful lady, but I think [the] time [has] come,” Comment by Jamaican PM, Portia Simpson Miller The Jamaica Gleaner
Though the dependency status of a sovereign state is wrought with obvious political dialectics; in this
case, Jamaica’s natural desire as a former British colony to have undisputed independence in it’s relationship with the United Kingdom – there is always the proverbial silver lining running through the clouds – the clarity that the true ‘common wealth’ is that which is shared among the people. Deloris Francis is one such example. Travelling from Jamaica to England as a small girl, (her parents initially came during Windrush), Deloris like so many others who find themselves far and away, are the cultural expressions of old country and new, tradition and expansion. As a vocalist she is the synthesis of Calypso, Soca, Roots, R&B, and Soul to name some of the ways in which these expressions merge.
On an Afternoon Train from Purley to Victoria 1955
Where are you from? She said.
Jamaica I said.
What part of Africa is Jamaica? She said.
Where Ireland is near Lapland I said.
In Francis’s childhood house, the likes of Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick and Solomon Burke would be playing. She admits at first to singing just for her own pleasure, as her parents like so many throughout the Black Diaspora did not necessarily endorse a secular singing career, “singing in the church was fine.” She had a strict upbringing and was prone to sneaking out of the house, she says.
Working in a band for years in the UK before venturing on her own as a solo performer, it was bandleader Norbert C Edward who attempted to be her seasoned guide in an industry that can be hurtful and ruthlessly dishonest. Deloris says affectionately that she wasn’t looking for a father figure back then, but years later she would partner again with Norbert, “if he says he’s going to have your money, I don’t care how long it is before you collect it, Norbert will have it.” That’s rare in the business she’s in, according to Francis. The beauty and trust of she and Norbert’s partnership extend to both public and private life. Their duet “The Two of Us” is a particular treat.
Francis is a trooper who continues to perform at a variety of top-shelf venues, inclusive of anniversary performances
celebrating Jamaican independence. She has also been honoured with vocalist of the year award twice by Black Women in the Arts.
In a notoriously youth oriented industry, Deloris Francis is still vibrant and singing after all these years. She is still fusing her deep cultural roots with evolving contemporary sounds, and most impressively; she is still fueled with the desire for new projects and wider audiences. A lovely artist and woman is she, whose passion for music and life endures.
For music by Deloris Francis check out: