Barbara Smith, better known as Lady Ann, began sneaking into local dancehall sessions circa 1975-1977, featuring sound systems like Black Harmony and Soulatonie. Lady Ann’s closest musical cohorts in these early days were Little John and Ranking Toyan, but at the same time she was influenced by Clint Eastwood, Ranking Dillinger, Trinity, Barry Brown, and Sugar Minott. Lady Ann began her professional music career in 1978, recording her first songs, Plan Your Family (a combination with Ranking Toyan), as well as Shine Eye Boy, for Don Mais’ Roots Tradition Label.
In 1980, Leon Synmoie invited her to record several songs for the Thrill Seekers Label, which ended up as part of her debut album, Vanity (released on the Alvin Ranglin’s GG’s label, which also included the hit single Sataap). Then, in 1981, Lady Ann then teamed with producer Blackbeard to record the song Husband and Wife on the Mr. Tipsy Label.
Between 1981-1982, Lady Ann enjoyed her biggest commercial success up to that date with her song Informer, produced by the legendary Joe Gibbs (as well as an LP by the same name). This song stormed up the local charts right to the #1 single spot, and the album also went #1 in Jamaica. In an instant, history was made: Lady Ann was the first female DJ to have a #1 single, as well as the first to have a #1 album. The success of Informer helped to swing her career into high gear, and its popularity led to major international exposure, including tours of the United States and Canada. Lady Ann’s third LP, Connection, produced by Eric Bubbles (of the African Brothers), was released in 1982 which helped propel her to new heights when she was named Jamaica’s first female DJ of the year. After enjoying these successes, she continued to record for the cream of the crop of Jamaica’s producers/labels, including Jah Thomas (Midnight Rock), Sly & Robbie (Taxi), Henry “Junjo” Lawes (Volcano), Bunny “Striker” Lee, Jah Life, and Shocking Vibes. Up to this date, Lady Ann has over sixty songs to her credit, including three full length albums.
Lady Ann’s latest outing, Bad Gyal Inna Dance, finds Lady Ann in a musical combination with trumpet player and producer djMush1 (aka Jeremy Mushlin), formerly of Epitaph/Hellcat recording act The Slackers. Mush 1 currently performs with New York City’s The Scorchers (as a leader) and the Hungry March Band, as well as the host of the long-running Tunnel One vintage ska & reggae radio program on New York University’s radio station (WNYU 89.1fm New York). Bad Gyal Inna Dance is an album in the “roots” dancehall style, featuring a combination of both live and digital instruments performing roots reggae / rockers-style riddums. Collectors also refer to this style as rub-a-dub, as well as “vintage” dancehall.
As well as continuing to woodshed and compose new music for the aforementioned acts, djMush1 has now taken matters into his own hands in his Brooklyn recording studio as both an engineer and producer. Lady Ann was the first artist whom Mush 1 sought out to voice his new musical creations. Lady Ann’s Bad Gyal Inna Dance is the culmination of Mush 1’s work at Al Paragus studio thus far, and also features guest appearances by Vic Ruggiero (of the Slackers) and St. Edward (son of legendary Studio 1 vocalist Eddie Parkins, of Alton & Eddie fame). Moreover, Bad Gyal Inna Dance also features a cameo appearance by original Roots Radics/Aggrovators/Revolutionairies percussionist Sky Juice, who lends a wicked repeater drum to Lady Ann’s “Run & Come.”
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