Jamaica is known for its rich musical culture and influence worldwide. The small island nation is credited for the emergence of multiple genres including Ska, Mento, Rock Steady, Reggae, Dub and Dancehall. Dancehall’s emergence began in the latter part of the 20th century and has transcended decades. This rich legacy has been propelled by many acts including remarkable, stand out female deejays and singers.The 1990’s, which is defined by many as arguably the best decade for Dancehall music saw various female greats, and below is a list (in no particular order) of four female dancehall acts who made it big at the cusp of the 21st century.

  1.    Patra

“Queen of the Pack” Dorothy “Patra” Smith, is Dancehall female royalty. Patra made a boom in the 1990’s on both the local and international stages with hits such as her rendition of Grace Jones’ Pull Up To Me BumperRomantic Calland Worker Man. Patra is known as one of the first successful female dancehall artistes to mix RnB and Dancehall, debuted her breakthrough Album “Queen of the Pack” in 1993 with Sony music’s Epic Record Label. In an interview with the local newspaper “The Jamaica Observer” Patra lists her greatest achievement as making it as an international artiste. It would be undoubtedly my breaking on to the international music scene and topping the charts worldwide and showing that Jamaica is a powerful force in the music industry.” she said.


           2.             Lady Saw

Songs such as If Him LefGive Me a Reason and Good Wuk have given Marion “Lady Saw” Hall the title of undisputed “Queen of Dancehall”. 

Lady Saw rose to prominence on the Jamaican Dancehall scene in the late 1980s and the 1990s saw her at the pinnacle of her career, as she produced hit after hit. Hall’s first album Lover Girl, released in August 1994, featured songs such as the iconic Stab Up The Meat and Wife and Sweetheart.

Known for her raunchy, but captivating and thought-provoking lyrics, Lady saw went on to produce albums such as Give Me The ReasonPassionand 99 Ways. 99 Ways which was released in 1998, peaked at number ten on the Reggae Billboard Charts. Lady Saw who began her career performing with her community sound system at the age of fifteen had her music banned from Jamaican airwaves, as her songs were viewed as lewd and “slack”. 

In a 1996 interview with the Chicago Tribune Lady Saw called out her critics for being “hypocritical” and refused to apologise for her frank lyrics.“The things I say, many women would like to say but they're too timid…The critics who called me slack are doing their job, let them. My job is to please my public," she said.


           3.             Diana King 

Singer-songwriter Diana King is another known cross over success of the 1990s dancehall scene. King who entered the music business as a teenager is known for her trademark blend of reggae, dancehall and R&B. King signed with American Record Label Sony in 1994, and she is known for her world wide mega hit “Shy Guy”. Shy Guy, which was released in1995 peaked at  #13 on the Billboard Hot 100, was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in the U.S. The single also hit #2 on the UK Singles Chart,as well as reaching #1 on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singleschart. King’s hit also went on to sell nearly five million singles worldwide and has been sampled numerous times, by international acts, including DJ Khaled on his latest album Father of Asahd.

            4.             Lady Mackerel 

Now known by her stage name “Macka Diamond”, Charmaine Munroe, under the moniker Lady Mackerel was one of dancehall’s female shining stars of the 1990’s. Born into a musical family, with producer father Phillip Munroe, Lady Mackerel was introduced to music from early on and interacted with music greats such as Gregory Isaacs and Sly and Robbie. Lady Mackerel made her debut onto the dancehall, not from her father’s studio but by working alongside female dancehall icon Lady Junie to produce her first major hit Don Girl. Throughout the 90’s she produced numerous singles on the Jamaican Dancehall scene including Money FirstWe got it going on and Love the Best.