Janet Kay Bogle, otherwise known as Janet Kay, was born in London in 1958. Having being invited to join in with a recording by a college friend, she was overheard singing by one of the band members, who was stuck by the sweetness of her voice. After being introduced to the reggae producer Alton Ellis, Bogle was asked to record a cover version of a Minnie Ripperton song, which topped the reggae charts for many weeks. After finding similar chart success with two further covers, her next song was a real smash hit. 

In 1978, Bogle made history with her song Silly Games. It was the first reggae song by a British-born black female singer to top the UK chart, earning her a spot in the Music Guinness Book of Records. This success led to the growth of the lover’s rock genre, which blended elements of reggae with other genres, such as rocksteady and soul.

With performers and audiences predominantly made up of women, lover’s rock came to be used as a vehicle for political conversation surrounding women’s issues, such as emancipation, gender discrimination and institutional bias. Lover’s rock songs were written and performed in a style that ran counter to the more macho sound of roots reggae. Musicians sought to be active in every part of the work of creating music, sparking engagement with male-dominated aspects of the music industry, such as ownership and production. 

Lover’s rock captured the response of its performers to the political climate of 1970s Britain, giving voice to a marginalised community. It would go on to influence many genres popular today, such as hip hop, pop and R’n’B.

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Black Music Collection #5

Minutes by Janet Kay