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Sharon Forrester

b. 1956, Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies. Forrester’s vocals were nurtured by singing from the age of six in church choirs. She came from a musical background: her father played guitar and sang, her brother was a gospel singer based in the USA, and her sister was a vocalist in a group called the Peter Ashburn Affair. Following a performance at her school of the Supremes’ ‘Baby Love’, she was inspired to embark on a musical career, performing to tourists on the north coast of Jamaica. Her performances led to a television appearance in Jamaica alongside Richard Ace, and an introduction to Geoffrey Chung of the band Now Generation. Chung had performed alongside Forrester’s sister in the Peter Ashburn Affair and she introduced him to Sharon. Impressed by her vocal range he took her into the studio in the spring of 1973, and they covered Valerie Simpson’s ‘Silly Wasn’t I’ with backing provided by the Now Generation. In November of the same year, Forrester appeared alongside the Wailers for The Ethiopian Benefit Concert - predating Live Aid by more than a decade. The single was not a big hit, but Chung remained undeterred and in 1974, because of the musicians strike in Jamaica, he took the young singer to the UK to complete the album Sharon. Tracks included a cover version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Holly’, ‘Words With No Meaning’ and ‘Put A Little Love Away’, which was lifted for release on the Vulcan label. While in the UK, she also appeared alongside Danny Ray in a film, Moon Over The Alley, made by the British Film Institute. Forrester’s career was showing potential when in the autumn of 1974 she appeared alongside Al Brown, Cynthia Richards, Dennis Brown, the Maytals and Count Prince Miller as part of the blighted Jamaica Showcase tour. Junior Lincoln, the man behind the Ashanti label, and Chung were both enthusiastic about Forrester’s capability, but she failed to achieve the commercial success expected of her. She appeared in the UK television programme Aquarius, performing George Harrison’s ‘Here Comes The Sun’ (her single at the time). Though the occasional recording surfaced, Forrester faded into obscurity. During this period she continued with studio session work, providing back-up vocals on a variety of productions. It was not until 1994 that she resurfaced performing ‘Love Inside’ over a jungle rhythm for ffrr Records, which bubbled under the UK Top 40 in the spring of 1995. Other releases emerged, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Heaven’, both of which were included on the appropriately titled This Time. In the spring of 1996 she was managed by the newly formed Sandosa group in Jamaica. A major label contract with Zomba/BMG resulted in the release of ‘Red Rose’ in combination with Papa San. The lyrics were penned by B.B. Seaton, and the melody was a version of ‘Telstar’, a 60s hit for the Tornados. Ernest Ranglin played guitar and the single was produced by Steely And Clevie. With all the credentials for a crossover hit, it was surprisingly still ignored by the mainstream media.
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