7 Jamaican Reggae & Dancehall artistes who became Christian gospel artistes

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Accepting the Lord, God as your savior is a life-changing decision, a decision that has transformed many in the music industry. Here are 7 Jamaican reggae artistes who decided to enroll as soldiers in the army of the Lord.

  1. Marion Hall 
Minister Marion Hall, formerly known as Lady Saw, to hold Benefit ...

Marion Hall (born 12 July 1972; formerly known by the stage name Lady Saw) is a Jamaican singer-songwriter whose career has spanned over two decades. Widely known as the Queen of Dancehall, she is the first female deejay to be certified as a triple-platinum and Grammy Award-winning artist.

Lady Saw became known for slack performance style. The style also prompted her to record “What is Slackness?”; a song in which she defines ‘slackness’ in many ways. Slackness often refers to vulgarity in Jamaican culture, behavior and music. It always sums up the explicit sexual lyrics used in reggae and dancehall music. Because of this, several of her performances were banned in some parts of Jamaica, though equally lewd male performances were not. The double standard inspired her to record the song “Freedom of Speech” in protest.

She also became known for her “conscious” lyrics. She recorded “Condom”; warning girls of the dangers of unprotected heterosexual sex.

Hall previously was nudged to become a Christian back in 2012. However, the death of dancehall artistes J Capri triggered her decision to join God’s kingdom.

On December 15, 2015, she made the decision to become a Christian and was baptized. She later stated she will no longer identify herself as “Lady Saw”, but instead as Minister Marion Hall or simply Marion Hall. She also stated that she will not perform dancehall music, but instead she will begin a new music career in gospel music.

 She has released a few gospel songs; “Jesus In The End”, “Cup of Blessings”, “God Almighty”, and “Heaven” which appear on several mixtapes. In July 2016, she released her gospel album When God Speaks.

2. DJ Nicholas

DJ NICHOLAS - Lyrics, Playlists & Videos | Shazam

Jamaican-born Christian Reggae Artiste Nicholas Eccleston, more popularly known as DJ Nicholas has grown to become one of the leading Caribbean Gospel artiste. He was born on October 29, 1980, in Kingston; however, in his teenage years searching for truth, he became a marijuana smoker, very rebellious and immersed in the Rastafarian Religion. His life was Changed shortly after by a scripture from Acts 4:12. He is now a passionate follower of Jesus Christ.

Nicholas has performed on BET Celebration of Gospel 2016 with Deitrick Haddon and has been interviewed on TBN Salsa In the Mix. He has performed in the UK, Canada and over 25 countries in the Caribbean region and continues to regularly visit them. He has shared stages with some of the most established names in the industry including TD Jakes, Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin and Tye Tribette among others. He now resides in the USA.

Nicholas is featured on several major projects including “Your Great Name” album by Todd Dulaney, “Masterpiece” album by Deitrick Haddon, “One Blood” album by Papa San and most recently “Second Wind” album by Anthony Brown and Group Therapy. Some of Nicholas’ popular songs are Holy Ghost Gym, Holy Ghost Church, Things Already Better, Naa Bow, Divine Mathematics and Cut It Off to name a few. Some of his songs have reached over a million views on YouTube and Facebook.

He’s a multi-award-winning Caribbean artiste. His awards include the YVA Awards Gospel Artiste Of The Year 2011 – 2013 consecutively in Kingston Jamaica, ‘The Atlanta Caribbean Gospel Awards 2012’ for ‘Album Of The Year’, ‘Caribbean Artiste Of The Year’ at the ‘Holy Hip Hop Awards’ 2012.

3. Junior Tucker

Saviour (live) - Junior Tucker by Victor Alejandro Millar on ...

His first hit was “Happy”, released when he was aged seven years old and was a No. 1 hit single in Jamaica, where he was known as the Jamaican Michael Jackson.

 He performed the tune at the One Love Peace Concert in 1978. He had further hits with his cover version of “Some Guys Have All The Luck” and, in 1983, recorded the first version of “Mr. Telephone Man”, 1984 Top 20 Billboard hit for New Edition.

Tucker also had international success (especially in Australia in 1991) with a reggae cover of the 1980 Benny Mardones hit “Into the Night”. Junior Tucker’s version was called “16 (Into The Night)”. In 1993, he recorded a No. 1 hit in “Love of a Lifetime”, releasing an album of the same name later that year for VP Records.

After the death of his father and the birth of his daughter, Tucker went in search of the meaning of life. After asking God to ‘let him sleep’, he became a born-again Christian and was baptized. He said that God had led him to move to Florida, where he sang at a mostly West Indian church in Broward. He subsequently moved to New Harvest Church in Clewiston, Florida and enrolled on a correspondence course degree in Ministry.

4. Papa San

Papa San (@iamPapaSan) | Twitter

Born in 1967 in Kingston, Jamaica, he was raised by his Rastafarian grandmother and began performing with sound systems (including Black Scorpio and Creation) in the late 1970s. He won the Tastee Talent contest in 1981. He went on to become one of the major dancehall artists of the late 1980s and 1990s, with hits such as “Maddy Maddy Cry”

His brother and fellow deejay Dirtsman was murdered in 1993. In the three years that followed, his sister was killed in a motorcycle accident, his cousin was killed by police, and he himself had legal problems after being arrested on weapons charges. He turned to Christianity in 1997.

 This is also reflected in his style, as he started off as a true dancehall deejay, later adopting traits of Gospel and Christian music.

Papa San sponsors a concert known as Papa San and Friends, to raise funds for orphanages in rural Jamaica. Since becoming a Christian, he has continued to produce his roots reggae sound, but with the message of Christ to the beat instead of his previously popular secular music.

In 2013, Papa San featured on Church Clothes, Vol 2 by Christian Hip Hop artist Lecrae, with Andy Mineo, on the song “The Fever”. His album One Blood topped the Billboard Reggae Albums Chart in February 2014.

5. Chevelle Franklyn

Have You Heard by Chevelle Franklyn | ReverbNation

Born in the Tawes Pen area of Spanish Town in St. Catherine Parish, Franklyn was the fourth in a family of ten children. She was forced to leave school at the age of fourteen to help support her family and found work singing at hotels and resorts.

After a year or two, she came to Kingston and worked with various producers there – Rohan Harrison, who had recorded her first single (“Here I Am”) when she was 14, Steely & Clevie (“No One in the World”, 1989) and Winston Riley. Manager and producer Mikey Bennett encouraged her to improve her education.

In 1998 Franklyn was about to perform “Dancehall Queen” on stage during a concert and instead performed Kirk Franklin’s gospel song “Silver and Gold”, announcing that she had become a Christian. After collaborations in 2000 with deejays Papa San (“Touch From You”) and Lieutenant Stitchie (“Mr. Lover” – a charting hit in the US), she released her first gospel album, Joy, in 2001, toured internationally, and won (in 2002) 5 Caribbean Gospel Reggae Marlin Awards. Her gospel music was controversial with some for combining dancehall with gospel.

Her album His Way was released in 2006; another album, Shake It Off (2008), was the product of a 2007 tour of South Africa and featured South African musicians and ministers.

6. Carlene Davis

My Forever Friend Lyrics - Carlene Davis (Lyrics + Music Video)

Davis was born in Colonels Ridge, Clarendon Parish and moved to England with her parents at the age of fourteen, where she began to perform professionally a year later, playing guitar in an all-female band before joining the pop trio Toreadores
She then moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada where she lived for eight years.

Davis initially found fame as a reggae singer. She recorded her debut single in Toronto, a version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, and had a local hit with a version of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come”.
In 1980, she returned to Jamaica to advance her career and performed at the Reggae Sunsplash festival in 1981. Also in 1981, she finished runner-up in the Festival Song Contest with “Peace and Love”.

She had hits in Jamaica with “Like Old Friends Do”, “It Must Be Love”, “Winnie Mandela”, “Stealing Love on the Side”, “Dial My Number” and “Going Down to Paradise”, and released a string of albums in the 1980s and first half of the 1990s, becoming one of Jamaica’s more established female reggae artists.
In 1996, Carlene Davis got the diagnosis many women dread. She had breast cancer. At the time, her career as a reggae singer held strong. But the singer soon changed course to answer a spiritual calling. Now an ordained minister,
In She released the album Vessel in 1998, and in 2000 her single “This Island Needs Jesus” was a major hit in several Caribbean countries.
She became involved in cancer charity work, with half of the proceeds from her 2003 album Author and Finisher going to the Jamaica Cancer Society. Davis has continued to perform regularly.
In 2000, Davis was named minister of music for The Family Church on the Rock in Kingston. In 2006, she gained a doctorate in pastoral counseling from the Trinity Theological Seminary in South Florida.

7. Lieutenant Stitchie

Lt. Stitchie (@Lt_Stitchie) | Twitter

Cleveland Laing, better known as Lieutenant Stitchie, is a Jamaican deejay who originally worked in the dancehall style but switched to gospel reggae in 1997 after surviving a car crash, thereafter working under the shorter name Stitchie.

Laing was born in Spanish Town and worked as a biology teacher at Spanish Town School before embarking on a career in music, for a time pursuing both in the late 1970s he began his career as a singer.

In the mid-1980s he began working on sound systems such as the Django sound system (as DJ Ranking Noseworthy), and released his first single under the name Ranking Citrus, or Citchie for short, being known for his love of citrus fruits. He went on to work on the Stereo One sound system, where he adopted the stage name Stitchie after being credited as such via a misprinted record label.

Stitchie was injured in a car crash in August 1997 while driving to Montego Bay to perform at the Reggae Sumfest festival, receiving cuts that required hospital treatment. Against medical advice, he went on to perform as scheduled, after which he was given a Gideon Bible by a Canadian boy. After reading the Bible in his hotel room he became a Christian and soon moved away from his dancehall songs to work in gospel reggae.

Although he completed a further album in the dancehall style (Raw Episode), he refused to promote it, and spent a period away from music, studying the Bible. His first album in the gospel reggae style was To God Be the Glory, released in 1999, with further albums following in a similar style.

In 2002, he won the ‘Outstanding Male Reggae Vocal Performance of the Year’ award at the Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Award. He has performed at several festivals since adopting gospel, on occasions giving Bible teachings to other performers.

Written by
Akeel Lovell

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